Stress is common among healthcare workers. The rising levels of burnout in doctors and nurses have raised concerns about how to best support these key members of society.
Most healthcare stakeholders agree that it is important that we improve the quality of life and job satisfaction in people working in healthcare, especially healthcare providers who content with some of the more stressful work environments.
Research into the impact of mindfulness has revealed in recent years how effective this technique can be in reducing stress. Even in healthcare workers, who have particularly stressful jobs, mindfulness has been shown to successfully improve symptoms of stress and anxiety. However, because mindfulness programs are often quite time-consuming, many healthcare workers are unwilling or unable to pursue this type of stress management approach.
Scientists behind a new study, published in JAMA Network Open, have investigated the potential of shorter mindfulness interventions that require less of a time commitment to improving stress and anxiety in healthcare professionals. For their study, researchers put 43 healthcare workers through 7.5 hours of mindfulness training – across 5 separate sessions. To understand the impact of the mindfulness intervention, they compared their results with those of 35 healthcare workers who did not go through the mindfulness program and therefore served as controls.
The data the researchers collected demonstrated that the mindfulness program was associated with reduced stress and anxiety. Compared to those who did not practice mindfulness, those who did displayed lower levels of stress and anxiety.
The participants in this study ranged in age from 23 years old to 48 years old, and only 17% of those in the study were men. More research is needed to corroborate these findings as well as to explore whether this type of brief mindfulness program is as effective in other age groups and to ensure that it is as effective in men and it is in women. Nonetheless, these new data provide a promising perspective on our ability to provide healthcare workers with a much-needed practical strategy to manage work-related stress.
Ameli, R. et al. (2020). Effect of a brief mindfulness-based program on stress in health care professionals at a US biomedical research hospital. JAMA Network Open, 3(8), e2013424.