Skip to main content

Table 2 Interpretation of action verbs as discrete and observable for the codebook

From: Do pharmacy practice standards effectively describe behaviour? Reviewing practice standards using a behavioural specificity framework

Action word Relevant dictionary definitions from Macquarie Online Dictionary [32] Interpretation of discrete and observable for review
Ensure 1. To secure, or bring surely, as to a person: this letter will ensure you a hearing.
2. To make sure or certain to come, occur, etc.: measures to ensure the success of an undertaking.
3. To make secure or safe, as from harm.
For all definitions:
Not discrete as likely to take multiple successive actions.
Not observable as not enough detail to know what the physical outcomes would be or what actions are needed.
Maintain 1. To keep in existence or continuance; preserve; retain: to maintain good relations with New Zealand.
2. To keep in due condition, operation, or force; keep unimpaired: to maintain order; maintain public highways.
3. To keep in a specified state, position, etc.
4. To affirm; assert (with a clause, or with an object and infinitive): maintain that it is right; maintain it to be true.
For all definitions:
Not discrete and would take multiple successive actions.
Some outcomes are possibly observable but adequate description of the action and outcome would be needed.
Uses 1. To employ for some purpose; put into service; turn to account: use a knife to cut; use a new method.
2. To avail oneself of; apply to one’s own purposes: use the front room for a conference.
3. To utter (words) or speak (a language).
4. To operate or put into effect.
For all definitions:
Possibly discrete but dependent on if there is enough explanation as to ‘how’ to use the object, article etc. If ‘how’ is not clearly detailed then the action would be considered non-discrete.
Some outcomes are possibly observable but adequate description of the action and outcome would be needed.
Refer 1. To direct the attention or thoughts of: the asterisk refers the reader to a footnote.
2. To direct for information or for anything required: to refer students to books on a subject.
3. (of a medical practitioner) to direct (a patient) to another doctor, usually a specialist, for further consultation or treatment.
4. To have recourse or resort; turn, as for aid or information: to refer to one’s notes.
For definitions 1,2 and 4:
Possibly discrete but dependent on if there is enough explanation as to ‘how’ and ‘what’ to refer the object, article etc. If ‘how’ and ‘what’ is not clearly detailed then the action would be considered non-discrete.
Some outcomes are possibly observable but adequate description of the action and outcome would be needed.
For definition 3:
If referring to another health profession then this is likely discrete and observable.
Identify 1. To recognise or establish as being a particular person or thing; attest or prove to be as claimed or asserted: to identify handwriting; to identify the bearer of a cheque.
2. To serve as a means of identification for: this card identifies the bearer as a member.
For all definitions:
Possibly discrete but dependent on if there is enough explanation as to ‘how’ and ‘what’ to refer the object, article etc. If ‘how’ and ‘what’ is not clearly detailed then the action would be considered non-discrete.
Some outcomes are possibly observable but adequate description of the action and outcome would be needed.
Liaise 1. To maintain contact and act in concert. Not discrete as likely to take multiple successive actions. To be discrete would need an explanation of ‘how’ this is being done.
Possibly observable but this is dependent on specific outcome or action.
Monitor 1. To check, observe, or record the operation of (a machine, etc.), without interfering with the operation.
2. To supervise; observe critically.
For all definitions:
Not discrete as likely to take multiple successive actions. To be discrete would need an explanation of ‘how’ this is being done.
Possibly observable but this is dependent on specific outcome or action.
Adhere 1. To be devoted to; be attached to as a follower or upholder: to adhere to a party; to adhere to a leader; to adhere to a church; to adhere to a creed.
2. To hold closely or firmly to: to adhere to a plan.
For all definitions:
Not discrete as likely to take multiple successive actions. To be discrete would need an explanation of ‘how’ this is being done and ‘what’ is being adhered to.
Possibly observable but this is dependent on specific outcome or action.
Implement 1. To put (a plan, proposal, etc.) into effect Not discrete as likely to take multiple successive actions.
Not observable as not enough detail to know what the physical outcomes would be or what actions are needed.
Consider 1. To contemplate mentally; meditate or reflect on.
2. To regard as or deem to be: I consider the examination is justified.
3. To think; suppose.
4. To make allowance for.
5. To pay attention to; regard: he never considers others.to view attentively, or scrutinise.
For all definitions:
Most likely not discrete and observable as is an internal thought process, may take multiple actions in succession to achieve and will not necessarily always have a physical outcome.
Review 1. To inspect, especially formally or officially.
2. To look back upon; view retrospectively.
For all definitions:
Not discrete as likely to take multiple successive actions. To be discrete would need an explanation of ‘how’ this is being done and ‘what’ is being reviewed.
Possibly observable but this is dependent on specific outcome or action.
Appraise 1. To estimate generally, as to quality, size, weight, etc.
2. To value in current money; estimate the value of.
For all definitions:
Not discrete as likely to take multiple successive actions. To be discrete would need an explanation of ‘how’ this is being done and ‘what’ is being appraised.
Possibly observable but this is dependent on specific outcome or action.
Evaluate 1. To ascertain the value or amount of; appraise carefully. Not discrete as likely to take multiple successive actions. To be discrete would need an explanation of ‘how’ this is being done and ‘what’ is being evaluated.
Possibly observable but this is dependent on specific outcome or action.
Assess 1. To fix or determine the amount of (damages, a tax, a fine, etc.).
2. To measure or evaluate.
For all definitions:
Not discrete as likely to take multiple successive actions. To be discrete would need an explanation of ‘how’ this is being done and ‘what’ is being assessed.
Possibly observable but this is dependent on specific outcome or action.
Accesses 1. To gain admittance to: you can access the foyer through this door. Discrete and observable as is a physical action.
Encourages 1. To inspire with courage, spirit, or confidence.
2. To stimulate by assistance, approval, etc.
For all definitions:
Not discrete as likely to take multiple successive actions. To be discrete would need an explanation of ‘how’ this is being done.
Possibly observable but this is dependent on specific outcome or action.
Facilitates 1. To make easier or less difficult; help forward (an action, a process, etc.).
2. To assist the progress of (a person): to facilitate the customer to find the right product.
For all definitions:
Not discrete as likely to take multiple successive actions. To be discrete would need an explanation of ‘how’ this is being done.
Possibly observable but this is dependent on specific outcome or action.
Engage 1. To occupy the attention or efforts of (a person, etc.): she engaged him in conversation.
2. To secure for aid, employment, use, etc.; hire: to engage a worker; to engage a room.
3. To attract and hold fast: to engage the attention; to engage someone’s interest.
4. To reserve or secure.
5. To attract or please: his good nature engages everybody he meets.
6. To bind as by pledge, promise, contract, or oath; make liable.
7. To occupy oneself; become involved: to engage in business; to engage in a strategy.
For all definitions:
Not discrete as likely to take multiple successive actions. To be discrete would need an explanation of ‘how’ this is being done.
Possibly observable but this is dependent on specific outcome or action.
Confirm 1. To make certain or sure; corroborate; verify: this confirmed my suspicions.
2. To make valid or binding by some formal or legal act; sanction; ratify: to confirm an agreement.
3. To reaffirm (a booking, ticket reservation, appointment, etc.) as by a notification to a person or organisation of one’s intention to carry out one’s original plans.
4. To strengthen (a person) in habit, resolution, opinion, etc.
For definitions 2 and 3:
Discrete and observable if ‘what’ or ‘who’ and ‘how’ something is being confirmed is named, as likely to have a physical or verbal outcome.
For definitions 1 and 4:
Not discrete as likely to take multiple successive actions. These may be internal thought processes. To be discrete would need an explanation of ‘how’ this is being done.
Possibly observable but this is dependent on specific outcome or action.
Selects 1. To choose in preference to another or others; pick out. Possibly discrete but may involve internal decision-making processes. Likely observable if physically choosing between objects.
Recommends 1. To commend by favourable representations; present as worthy of confidence, acceptance, use, etc.: to recommend a book.
2. To represent or urge as advisable or expedient: to recommend caution.
3. To advise (a person, etc., to do something): I recommend you to wait.
Discrete and observable as likely to have a physical or verbal outcome.