Managing Workplace Pressures


Managing workplace pressures to enhance safer practice in community pharmacy: a scoping study




  • Dr Sally Jacobs, Professor Karen Hassell, Centre for Pharmacy Workforce Studies, University of Manchester
  • Dr Sheena Johnson, Manchester Business School, University of Manchester



Workplace stress is currently a problem for many community pharmacists. For a number of years now, changes to the pharmacist’s role, pressures to meet business targets, staff shortages, long working days with no opportunities for rest breaks, and an increasing administrative burden, have left pharmacists struggling to cope with burgeoning workloads and have led to concerns that patient safety is being compromised.

The response of community pharmacy organisations to these increasing pressures could be instrumental in ensuring that they do not adversely affect pharmacists’ well-being or lead to an increase in dispensing errors. Yet we do not know what steps community pharmacies are already taking to prevent or manage workplace stress for pharmacists. Nor do we have any evidence of cost-effective solutions to workplace stress that may be practicable in a community pharmacy setting.

The main aim of this study was to identify possible solutions to workplace pressures which are suitable, acceptable and/or adaptable to the community pharmacy sector and therefore have the potential to improve pharmacists’ well being and reduce the risk of dispensing errors taking place.


A secondary synthesis of existing reviews of the literature on organisational stress management and prevention interventions. A series of semi-structured interviews with three groups of respondents: senior representatives of community pharmacy stakeholder organisations (n=6); senior managers of community pharmacy employing organisations (n=11); and practising community pharmacists (n=16).

Summary of findings

The interviews with frontline pharmacists and senior representatives of community pharmacy organisations have provided evidence of existing awareness of workplace stress in community pharmacy, its perceived causes and the effects on individual pharmacists, community pharmacy organisations and the quality and safety of patient care. Furthermore, these interviews have for the first time produced evidence of the range of stress management and prevention interventions currently implemented by community pharmacies, including any safe workload parameters, and views of which interventions might be suitable for or adaptable to the community pharmacy context.

The literature review helped us to identify interventions where there exists evidence of effectiveness (or cost effectiveness); it has also helped us produce a model of best practice in stress management and prevention which may be suitable for adoption by community pharmacy organisations seeking to implement strategies in this area. The findings have highlighted areas where further research is needed, the evidence from which will support future endeavors to find organisational solutions to workplace pressures in community pharmacy.

This project has now been completed with a final report and executive summary for viewing.