Skip to main content

Research Repository

Advanced Search

A mixed methods investigation into the use of non-technical skills by community and hospital pharmacists.

Irwin, Amy; Weidmann, Anita Elaine


Amy Irwin

Anita Elaine Weidmann


Background: Non-technical skills refer to the social and cognitive factors that may influence efficient and safe job performance. Research has shown that non-technical skills are an important element of patient safety in a variety of healthcare disciplines, including surgery, anaesthesia and nursing. However, the use of non-technical skills in pharmacy practice has not yet been fully assessed. Objective: To examine attitudes toward, and use of, non-technical skills by pharmacy personnel. Methods: A mixed methods approach was used: Step 1 was an attitude survey designed to explore pharmacy personnel attitudes towards non-technical skills and inter-professional collaboration, with a sample of 62 community and hospital pharmacy staff. Step 2 was a qualitative interview study conducted using the critical incident technique, with a sample of 11 community pharmacists. Results: A discrepancy was found in the opinions of community and hospital pharmacists on three non-technical skill constructs: team structure, mutual support and situation monitoring, with community pharmacists more positive about all three. Both groups reported low levels of collaboration with primary care physicians. Furthermore, five non-technical skills were identified as key elements of successful pharmacist performance from the interview transcripts: Situational awareness; decision-making; leadership; teamwork; task management. Conclusion: The survey and interviews identified the specific non-technical skills that are unique to pharmacists. This represents the first step towards the development of a behavioural rating system for training purposes that could potentially improve the non-technical skills of pharmacists and enhance patient safety.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Oct 31, 2015
Journal Research in social and administrative pharmacy
Print ISSN 1551-7411
Electronic ISSN 1934-8150
Publisher Elsevier
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 11
Issue 5
Pages 675-685
Institution Citation IRWIN, A. and WEIDMANN, A. 2015. A mixed methods investigation into the use of non-technical skills by community and hospital pharmacists. Research in social and administrative pharmacy [online], 11(5), pages 675-685. Available from:
Keywords Nontechnical skills; Pharmacy; Situation awareness; Leadership; Teamwork