RESEARCH – May 2006

Relationships between the risk factors, health complaints and working ability of pharmacists in community pharmacy work


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The aim of the present study was to find out the main occupational risk factors in community pharmacy work and to detect some common health complaints, as well as to assess the working ability, health behaviour and job satisfaction among pharmacists and to analyse the relationships between all above indices.
Material and methods. An anonymous questionnaire was distributed to 61 community pharmacists of Tartu. The questionnaire “Work stress and health among pharmacists” was based on the risk assessment tool for medical departments “Work Environment Inventory” developed in the Department of Public Health, University of Tartu. The questionnaire was adapted to pharmacists’ work and consisted of 97 questions subdivided into 9 parts: demographic data; organisational, chemical, physical, biological, psychological, physiological risk factors; health and working ability. The frequency (1–3, where 1 – frequently, 2 – sometimes, 3 – never) and intensity scales (1–4, where 1 – very high, 2 – high, 3 – moderate, 4 – low) were used for the assessment of stress factors. Working ability was assessed on the scale 1–10. The statistical program SPSS 10.0 was used for data analysis. General frequency tables were recorded to count and compare the mean values of the data. Based on Spearman Correlation Analysis, relationships were established between the demographic parameters and the risk factors and between the stress factor groups.
Results. The number of respondents was 51 and response rate was 83.6%. The average  age of the study group was 40.2 } 0.6 years and mean service length was 15.6 } 12.1 years. Based on the results of the study, we conclude that there are numerous work-related risk factors affecting pharmacists’ health and working ability in community pharmacy work. Many pharmacists’ health complaints are work-related and at the same time cumulative and have also a negative effect on working ability. Non-appreciated job, high responsibility, large number of clients and forced position during computer work and compounding were the most important risk factors. Ergonomically unsuitable workplaces for computer work, disturbing noise, dry air and poor rest conditions were the hazards for pharmacists. Eye fatigue, eye irritation and vision problems, musculo-skeletal problems and headaches were the more common health complaints. Almost all health problems were derived from the working environment, where organisational factors and work specificity played an important role. Pharmacists’ working ability was quite high and, in general, they were satisfied with their job. Still, there is a need for good guidelines, improvement of the working environment and more effective prevention of health risks are important for community pharmacists in their future work.
Conclusion. Further research is needed to clear up the risk factors in community pharmacy work. This would increase awareness among pharmacists and help improve their working environment, reduce work-related health complaints and improve the quality of services.