Can a theoretical training improve calculation performance of production technicians?

2 October 2014

Benjamin Mouchet1, Lucie Bouchoud2, Pascal Bonnabry1,2 1 Section of pharmaceutical sciences, University of Geneva, University of Lausanne, Geneva, Switzerland
2 Pharmacy, Geneva University Hospitals (HUG), Geneva, Switzerland


Technicians are used to perform calculations during their production activities. Miscalulation could have serious consequences. The aim of this study was to establish whether a theoretical training could improve calculation performance. A comparison with students (population with theoretical but not practical knowledge) has been done.


Performances were assessed using tests containing 17 calculations divided in 6 themes: dilution, percentage, rule of 3, conversion of units, mEq/mmol. Three tests were performed: before, 2 weeks after and 7 weeks after a theoretical training session (approx. 1 hour based on practical cases resolution). A summary sheet (examples of calculation) was distributed and was available during the post-training tests.


Technicians (n=9) performance was 80,5% ± 8,3 (CI95%) of correct answers for test 1, 94,8% ± 3,8 (p=0,008) for test 2 and 94,1% ± 2,6 (p=0,008) for the test 3. Students (n=8) performance was 69,1% ± 13,7 for test 1, 93,1% ± 5,4 (p=0,014) for test 2 and 92,7% ± 7,8 (p=0,016) for the test 3. No significant difference was found comparing the overall results of the two populations. Technicians had a higher rate of correct answers to percentage calculations in the first test (95,5%+ 10.9 vs 56,3 + 15.8).

Discussion and conclusion

Theoretical training with the summary sheet significantly increased the calculation performances of technicians and students and reduced the interindividual variability. The study was limited to 7 weeks post-training and a more distant test is needed to determine the long-term impact. This theoretical session with a test will be integrated in the periodic training of technicians.

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