A new study found that brief mindfulness-based programs can reduce stress and anxiety among US health care professionals.
“An important challenge to broad implementation of mindfulness programs in health care settings is the time required for training and practice. A typical mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) program includes 8 weekly, 2.5- to 3-hour in-class practice sessions, 1 full-day silent retreat, and a recommendation for 45 minutes of daily practice. Attrition owing to time and schedule requirements and the cost of a long programs can limit their utilization at the individual and organizational levels,” wrote study authors led by Rezvan Ameli, PhD, senior clinical psychologist, National Institute of Mental Health, National Institutes of Health (NIH), Bethesda, Maryland.
The study assessed the efficacy and feasibility of a brief mindfulness-based self-care (MBSC) program during work hours to reduce stress among health care providers, who were recruited through group emails and flyers posted at the NIH Clinical Center.
The study was conducted between September 2017 and May 2018 and participants were randomly assigned to either 5 weekly, 1.5-hour in-class MBSC training sessions or life-as-usual control.
The primary outcome was stress level and secondary outcomes included anxiety, burnout, positive and negative affect, mindfulness as a trait and state, and self-care. Assessments were conducted at baseline and at 5 weeks in the intervention and control groups, as well as at follow-up (week 13) in the intervention group to test for a maintenance effect.
A total of 78 participants completed the study at 5 weeks and were included in a modified intent-to-treat analysis. Of those participants, 43 were in the MBSC group and 35 were in the control group.
At the end of the 5 weeks, the MBSC group exhibited reduced levels of stress and anxiety as well as improved positive affect, state mindfulness, and mindful self-care compared to the control group. Burnout, negative affect, and trait mindfulness levels did not differ between groups.
Through follow-up, the MBSC group demonstrated sustained reductions in stress, anxiety, trait mindfulness, and state mindfulness.
“Engaging both individual and organizational involvement toward reducing stress and enhancing mindfulness may have far-reaching effects on employee health, patient outcomes, and organizational success. The effect of employee gains on patient outcomes remains an important subject for future inquiries,” concluded authors.