Objective To investigate the construct validity and reliability of the Pharmacist Stress Inventory (PSI) and to identify occupational stressors for hospital pharmacists in South Africa.

Method A cross-sectional survey design was used. Exploratory factor analyses, descriptive statistics, and multivariate analysis were used to analyse the results. The PSI was developed as a measuring instrument and administered together with a biographical questionnaire.

Setting A stratified random sample (n = 187) of pharmacists in South African hospitals was studied.

Key findings Three internally consistent factors, namely job demands, pharmacy-specific stressors and lack of resources were extracted. The level of severity of the various stressors was calculated, and it seems that unavailability of medicine is the stressor that has the highest level of severity. Other stressors that had high severity ratings include: frequent interruptions, poorly motivated coworkers, high levels of workload and insufficient salaries. The type of pharmacy influenced the levels of stress experienced.

Conclusion The levels of stress currently experienced by South African hospital pharmacists need to be identified and addressed in order to reduce the stress experienced and improve the quality of work life for these individuals.