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

A. Irwin, A. E. Weidmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)



Non-technical skills refer to the social and cognitive factors that may influence efficient and safe job performance. Non-technical skills are an important element of patient safety in a variety of health care disciplines, including surgery, anesthesia and nursing. However, the use of non-technical skills in pharmacy practice has not yet been fully assessed.


To examine attitudes toward, and use of, non-technical skills by pharmacy personnel.


A mixed methods approach was used: An attitude survey explored pharmacy personnel attitudes towards non-technical skills and inter-professional collaboration, with community and hospital pharmacy staff (n = 62). Qualitative interviews were then conducted using the critical incident technique, with community pharmacists (n = 11).


The survey results demonstrated differences in the opinions of community and hospital pharmacists on three non-technical skill constructs: team structure, mutual support, and situation monitoring, with community pharmacists reporting significantly more positive attitudes about all three constructs. Both groups reported low levels of collaboration with primary care physicians. The interviews identified five non-technical skills as key elements of successful pharmacist performance from the interview transcripts: teamwork; leadership; task management; situation awareness; decision-making.


The survey and interviews identified the non-technical skills that are important to pharmacists. This represents the first step towards the development of a behavioral rating system for training purposes that could potentially improve the non-technical skills of pharmacists and enhance patient safety.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)675-685
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Social and Administrative Pharmacy
Issue number5
Early online date17 Dec 2014
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2015

Bibliographical note

Funding: This work was supported by the Scottish Funding Council, through the Scottish Patient Safety Research network. We would like to thank all of our participants for giving up their time to take part in this study. We would also like to thank Dr Margaret Watson for her comments on this paper.


  • non-technical skills
  • pharmacy
  • situation awareness
  • leadership
  • teamwork


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