Improve the Psychological Health of Health Care Professionals with Mindfulness

Improve the Psychological Health of Health Care Professionals with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“The front lines for health care providers may feel overwhelming. . . turning to mindfulness practice can help us settle, help us get out of all that thinking for a moment. We can try to settle down and maybe give ourselves a little rest or see a situation with a little different clarity. “ – Mindful

 

Stress is epidemic in the western workplace with almost two thirds of workers reporting high levels of stress at work. In high stress occupations, like healthcare, burnout is all too prevalent. Burnout is the fatigue, cynicism, emotional exhaustion, sleep disruption, and professional inefficacy that comes with work-related stress. It is estimated that over 45% of healthcare workers experience burnout. It not only affects the healthcare providers personally, but also the patients, as it produces a loss of empathy and compassion. Burnout, in fact, it is a threat to the entire healthcare system. Currently, over a third of healthcare workers report that they are looking for a new job. Hence, burnout contributes to the shortage of doctors and nurses.

 

Preventing the negative psychological consequences of stress in healthcare professionals has to be a priority. Contemplative practices have been shown to reduce the psychological and physiological responses to stress and improve well-being. Indeed, mindfulness has been shown to be helpful in treating and preventing burnoutincreasing resilience, and improving sleep. Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) is a mindfulness training program that was developed to help deal with stress. MBSR  consists of discussion, meditation, yoga and body scan practices. The evidence has been accumulating regarding MBSR’s effectiveness for the treatment of healthcare professionals, so it makes sense to summarize what has been learned.

 

In today’s Research News article “The Effectiveness of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction on the Psychological Functioning of Healthcare Professionals: a Systematic Review.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7511255/ ) Kriakous and colleagues review and summarize the published research studies of the benefits of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) for the psychological health of healthcare workers. They identified 30 published research studies.

 

They report that the published research studies found that Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) significantly reduced healthcare workers’ levels of perceived stress, anxiety, and depression and increased mindfulness and self-compassion. Mindfulness practices have been previously reported to decrease perceived stress, anxiety, and depression and increase self-compassion in a wide variety of healthy and ill individuals. The present research summarizes these benefits for stressed healthcare professionals. These benefits of mindfulness training are important for reducing burnout, improving the psychological health of healthcare workers, and maintaining the workforce, and thereby improving the levels of care delivered to patients.

 

So, improve the psychological health of health care professionals with mindfulness.

 

health care workforce. There is increasing evidence that learning to practice mindfulness can result in decreased burnout and improved well-being. Mindfulness is a useful way of cultivating self-kindness and compassion, including by bringing increased awareness to and acceptance of those things that are beyond our control.” – Kate Fitzpatrick

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Kriakous, S. A., Elliott, K. A., Lamers, C., & Owen, R. (2020). The Effectiveness of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction on the Psychological Functioning of Healthcare Professionals: a Systematic Review. Mindfulness, 1–28. Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-020-01500-9

 

Abstract

Objectives

Burnout and occupational stress are frequently experienced by healthcare professionals (HCPs). Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) has been found to improve the psychological health outcomes of HCPs. To date, systematic reviews and meta-analyses have primarily focused upon empirical investigations into the reduction of stress amongst HCPs using MBSR and are limited to empirical studies published before December 2019. This systematic review aimed to update the current evidence base and broaden our understanding of the effectiveness of MBSR on improving the psychological functioning of HCPs.

Methods

Three electronic databases (Medline, Psych Info and Web of Science) were searched without time frame restrictions. Quantitative studies included randomised controlled trials, clinical controlled trials, pre-post designs and studies with up to a 12-month follow-up period. All studies included in the review employed a MBSR programme, standardised measures of psychological functioning and qualified HCPs as participants.

Results

Using PRISMA guidelines thirty studies were included in the review. The reviewed literature suggested that MBSR was effective in reducing HCPs experiences of anxiety, depression and stress. MBSR was also found to be effective in increasing HCP levels of mindfulness and self-compassion. However, MBSR did not appear as effective in reducing burnout or improving resilience amongst HCPs. Abbreviated MBSR programmes were found to be as effective as the traditional 8-week MBSR programmes.

Conclusions

MBSR is an effective intervention which can help improve the psychological functioning of HCPs. Recommendations include improving the overall quality of the studies by employing more robust controlled designs with randomisation, increased sample sizes with heterogeneous samples, and making active comparisons between interventions used.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7511255/

 

Improve Compassion and Self-Compassion in Health Care Professionals with Mindfulness

Improve Compassion and Self-Compassion in Health Care Professionals with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Burgeoning research is showing that self-compassion skills can be of particular benefit to health care professionals, allowing them to experience greater satisfaction in their caregiving roles, less stress, and more emotional resilience.” – CMSC

 

Stress is epidemic in the western workplace with almost two thirds of workers reporting high levels of stress at work. In high stress occupations, like healthcare, burnout is all too prevalent. Burnout is the fatigue, cynicism, emotional exhaustion, sleep disruption, and professional inefficacy that comes with work-related stress. It is estimated that over 45% of healthcare workers experience burnout. It not only affects the healthcare providers personally, but also the patients, as it produces a loss of empathy and compassion. Burnout, in fact, it is a threat to the entire healthcare system. Currently, over a third of healthcare workers report that they are looking for a new job. Hence, burnout contributes to the shortage of doctors and nurses.

 

Preventing burnout has to be a priority. Unfortunately, it is beyond the ability of the individual to change the environment to reduce stress and prevent burnout. So, it is important that methods be found to reduce the individual’s responses to stress; to make the individual more resilient when high levels of stress occur. Contemplative practices have been shown to reduce the psychological and physiological responses to stress and improve well-being. Indeed, mindfulness has been shown to be helpful in treating and preventing burnoutincreasing resilience, and improving sleep.

 

One way that mindfulness may help reduce burnout is by improving self-compassion. Self-compassion is “treating oneself with kindness and understanding when facing suffering, seeing one’s failures as part of the human condition, and having a balanced awareness of painful thoughts and emotions” (Kristin Neff). This may reduce the perfectionism and self-judgement that is common among physicians and thereby reduce burnout.

 

In today’s Research News article “Mindfulness, Compassion, and Self-Compassion Among Health Care Professionals: What’s New? A Systematic Review.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.01683/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1401267_69_Psycho_20200811_arts_A) Conversano and colleagues review and summarize the published research studies of the effects of mindfulness on compassion and self-compassion and the symptoms of burnout in health care professionals. They identified 57 published studies consisting of: “randomized controlled trials (4), studies with pre-post measurements (23), cross-sectional studies (12), cohort studies (11), and qualitative studies (7)”.

 

They report that the published research found that the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program was effective in increasing mindfulness and self-compassion and reducing burnout, stress, anxiety and depression. Other mindfulness trainings were effective in increasing mindfulness and self-compassion and reducing negative emotions and compassion fatigue. Compassion training programs were effective in increasing mindfulness, positive emotions, and self-compassion and reducing interpersonal conflicts, negative emotions and compassion fatigue.

 

This research summary suggests that mindfulness training and compassion training are both useful in combatting the stress of healthcare work and reducing potential burnout of these professionals. The large number of studies employing different mindfulness and compassion training programs makes a strong case for the use of mindfulness and compassion training to reduce the likelihood of burnout of health care professionals and thereby improve the quality of the delivery of health care to the patients. This all suggests that mindfulness and compassion training should be routinely incorporated in the training and continuing education of healthcare workers,

 

Improve compassion and self-compassion in health care professionals with mindfulness.

 

health care professionals who completed the MBSR program reported an increase in feelings of self-compassion and reduced stress.” – Elaine Mead

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Conversano C, Ciacchini R, Orrù G, Di Giuseppe M, Gemignani A and Poli A (2020) Mindfulness, Compassion, and Self-Compassion Among Health Care Professionals: What’s New? A Systematic Review. Front. Psychol. 11:1683. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2020.01683

 

Health care professionals (HCPs) are a population at risk for high levels of burnout and compassion fatigue. The aim of the present systematic review was to give an overview on recent literature about mindfulness and compassion characteristics of HCPs, while exploring the effectiveness of techniques, involving the two aspects, such as MBSR or mindfulness intervention and compassion fatigue-related programs. A search of databases, including PubMed and PsycINFO, was conducted following the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Review and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines and the methodological quality for this systematic review was appraised using AMSTAR-2 (A MeaSurement Tool to Assess systematic Reviews-2). The number of articles that met the inclusion criteria was 58 (4 RCTs, 24 studies with pre-post measurements, 12 cross-sectional studies, 11 cohort studies and 7 qualitative studies). MBSR intervention was effective at improving, and maintaining, mindfulness and self-compassion levels and to improve burnout, depression, anxiety, stress. The most frequently employed interventional strategies were mindfulness-related trainings that were effective at improving mindfulness and self-compassion, but not compassion fatigue, levels. Compassion-related interventions have been shown to improve self-compassion, mindfulness and interpersonal conflict levels. Mindfulness was effective at improving negative affect and compassion fatigue, while compassion satisfaction may be related to cultivation of positive affect. This systematic review summarized the evidence regarding mindfulness- and compassion-related qualities of HCPs as well as potential effects of MBSR, mindfulness-related and compassion-related interventions on professionals’ psychological variables like mindfulness, self-compassion and quality of life. Combining structured mindfulness and compassion cultivation trainings may enhance the effects of interventions, limit the variability of intervention protocols and improve data comparability of future research.

https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2020.01683/full?utm_source=F-AAE&utm_medium=EMLF&utm_campaign=MRK_1401267_69_Psycho_20200811_arts_A

 

Improve Health Care Professional Self-Compassion with Mindfulness

Improve Health Care Professional Self-Compassion with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Mindfulness is especially suited to physicians, because it can help counteract the worrying, perfectionism and self-judgment that are so common among doctors.” – WellMD

 

Stress is epidemic in the western workplace with almost two thirds of workers reporting high levels of stress at work. In high stress occupations, like healthcare, burnout is all too prevalent. Burnout is the fatigue, cynicism, emotional exhaustion, sleep disruption, and professional inefficacy that comes with work-related stress. It is estimated that over 45% of healthcare workers experience burnout. It not only affects the healthcare providers personally, but also the patients, as it produces a loss of empathy and compassion. Burnout, in fact, it is a threat to the entire healthcare system. Currently, over a third of healthcare workers report that they are looking for a new job. Hence, burnout contributes to the shortage of doctors and nurses.

 

Preventing burnout has to be a priority. Unfortunately, it is beyond the ability of the individual to change the environment to reduce stress and prevent burnout. So, it is important that methods be found to reduce the individual’s responses to stress; to make the individual more resilient when high levels of stress occur. Contemplative practices have been shown to reduce the psychological and physiological responses to stress and improve well-being. Indeed, mindfulness has been shown to be helpful in treating and preventing burnoutincreasing resilience, and improving sleep.

 

One way that mindfulness may help reduce burnout is by improving self-compassion. Self-compassion is “treating oneself with kindness and understanding when facing suffering, seeing one’s failures as part of the human condition, and having a balanced awareness of painful thoughts and emotions” (Kristin Neff). This may reduce the perfectionism and self-judgement that is common among physicians and thereby reduce burnout.

 

In today’s Research News article “Effects of Mindfulness-Based Interventions on Self-compassion in Health Care Professionals: a Meta-analysis.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7223423/), Wasson and colleagues review summarize and perform a meta-analysis of the effectiveness of mindfulness training in improving self-compassion in physicians. They identified 28 published research studies.

 

They found that the published research reports that mindfulness-based interventions produced significant improvements in self-compassion in a variety of health care professionals. The effects sizes were moderate and there were no indications of publication bias. These results are important as having compassion for oneself is a prerequisite to having true compassion for others and this is essential for patient treatment. In addition, self-compassion may inoculate the health care worker from burnout. Hence, mindfulness training is important for health care professionals.

 

So, improve health care professional self-compassion with mindfulness.

 

Mindfulness is growing in popularity as a way of promoting self-compassion among physicians. “This is all about being aware and in tune with yourself, learning to listen to your body and your mind so you know what you need and can give that to yourself.” – Kevin Teoh

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Rachel S. Wasson, Clare Barratt, William H. O’Brien, Effects of Mindfulness-Based Interventions on Self-compassion in Health Care Professionals: a Meta-analysis. Mindfulness (N Y) 2020 Mar 5 : 1–21. doi: 10.1007/s12671-020-01342-5

 

Abstract

Objectives

Health care professionals have elevated rates of burnout and compassion fatigue which are correlated with poorer quality of life and patient care, and inversely correlated with self-compassion. Primary studies have evaluated the extent to which mindfulness-based interventions increase self-compassion with contradictory findings. A meta-analytic review of the literature was conducted to quantitatively synthesize the effects of mindfulness-based interventions on self-compassion among health care professionals.

Methods

Twenty-eight treatment outcome studies were identified eligible for inclusion. Five cumulative effect sizes were calculated using random-effects models to evaluate differences of changes in self-compassion for treatment and control groups. Within and between group comparisons were evaluated. Sub-group and moderator analyses were conducted to explore potential moderating variables.

Results

Twenty-seven articles (k = 29, N = 1020) were utilized in the pre-post-treatment meta-analysis. Fifteen samples (52%) included health care professionals and fourteen (48%) professional health care students. Results showed a moderate effect size between pre-post-treatment comparisons (g = .61, 95% CI = .47 to .76) for self-compassion and a strong effect size for pre-treatment to follow-up (g = .76, 95% CI = .41 to 1.12). The effect size comparing post-treatment versus post-control was moderate. One exploratory moderator analysis was significant, with stronger effects for interventions with a retreat component.

Conclusions

Findings suggest mindfulness-based interventions improve self-compassion in health care professionals. Additionally, a variety of mindfulness-based programs may be useful for employees and trainees. Future studies with rigorous methodology evaluating effects on self-compassion and patient care from mindfulness-based interventions are warranted to extend findings and explore moderators.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7223423/

 

Reduce Burnout in Medical Residents with Mindfulness

Reduce Burnout in Medical Residents with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

while they appreciate the great meaning in their work, clinicians’ ability to disconnect and recharge may be even more critical than it is for others when it comes to how they view work environments and feel as employees.” – David Gregg

 

Stress is epidemic in the western workplace with almost two thirds of workers reporting high levels of stress at work. In high stress occupations, like healthcare, burnout is all too prevalent. Burnout is the fatigue, cynicism, emotional exhaustion, sleep disruption, and professional inefficacy that comes with work-related stress. It is estimated that over 45% of healthcare workers experience burnout. It not only affects the healthcare providers personally, but also the patients, as it produces a loss of empathy and compassion. Burnout, in fact, it is a threat to the entire healthcare system. Currently, over a third of healthcare workers report that they are looking for a new job. Hence, burnout contributes to the shortage of doctors and nurses.

 

Preventing burnout has to be a priority. Unfortunately, it is beyond the ability of the individual to change the environment to reduce stress and prevent burnout. So, it is important that methods be found to reduce the individual’s responses to stress; to make the individual more resilient when high levels of stress occur. Contemplative practices have been shown to reduce the psychological and physiological responses to stress and improve well-being. Indeed, mindfulness has been shown to be helpful in treating and preventing burnoutincreasing resilience, and improving sleep. Hence, mindfulness may be a means to reduce burnout and improve well-being in hospital residents.

 

In today’s Research News article “Evidence-Based Interventions that Promote Resident Wellness from the Council of Emergency Residency Directors.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7081870/), Parsons and colleagues review and summarize the published research regarding methods to reduce burnout in medical residents. From this research they formed conclusions  and recommendations.

 

They report that the published studies demonstrate that medical resident burnout is mitigated by interventions that emphasize mindfulness, stress management, and resilience training. The evidence is fairly strong from well conducted controlled trials. It should be noted that mindfulness training improves both stress management and resilience. So, mindfulness training may be the key to all of the effective training strategies. They also report that working conditions tend to produce fatigue and stress that contribute to burnout. Reduction in burnout can be accomplished by adjustments to the work environment including shift scheduling.

 

So, reduce burnout in medical residents with mindfulness.

 

Research exploring the effects of mindfulness training suggests it produces broad and significant improvements in attributes applicable to patient care and physician well-being.” – American Medical Association

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Parsons, M., Bailitz, J., Chung, A. S., Mannix, A., Battaglioli, N., Clinton, M., & Gottlieb, M. (2020). Evidence-Based Interventions that Promote Resident Wellness from the Council of Emergency Residency Directors. The western journal of emergency medicine, 21(2), 412–422. https://doi.org/10.5811/westjem.2019.11.42961

 

Abstract

Initiatives for addressing resident wellness are a recent requirement of the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education in response to high rates of resident burnout nationally. We review the literature on wellness and burnout in residency education with a focus on assessment, individual-level interventions, and systemic or organizational interventions.

Best Practice Recommendations for Individual Interventions

  • Mindfulness training should be incorporated into residency training to improve wellness and reduce burnout (Level 1b, Grade B).
  • Consider incorporating behavioral interventions, such as reframing, self-compassion, and empathy into residency training (Level 4, Grade C)
  • Encourage self-care with respect to physical, psychological, and emotional health. This should include an emphasis on sleep, healthy eating, regular exercise, development of social and professional support networks, PCP visits, resources for substance abuse, and counseling or mentoring programs (Level 4, Grade C)
  • Program faculty should meet privately with residents potentially suffering from burnout to identify the unique causes and appropriate interventions. Close follow-up meetings should assess improvement (Level 4, Grade C)

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7081870/

 

Improve Doctor’s Performance and Well-Being with Mindfulness

Improve Doctor’s Performance and Well-Being with Mindfulness

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

Anyone whose work involves immense human suffering needs to be aware of their inner life. The nature of the work that physicians do makes [them] more vulnerable to negative emotions or making errors,” – Ronald Epstein

 

Stress is epidemic in the western workplace with almost two thirds of workers reporting high levels of stress at work. In high stress occupations, like healthcare, burnout is all too prevalent. Burnout is the fatigue, cynicism, emotional exhaustion, sleep disruption, and professional inefficacy that comes with work-related stress. It is estimated that over 45% of healthcare workers experience burnout. It not only affects the healthcare providers personally, but also the patients, as it produces a loss of empathy and compassion.

 

Improving the psychological health of doctors has to be a priority. Contemplative practices have been shown to reduce the psychological and physiological responses to stress. Indeed, mindfulness has been shown to be helpful in treating and preventing burnoutincreasing resilience, improving emotional regulation, and improving sleep. Hence, mindfulness may be a means to improve the performance and psychological health of doctors. Indeed, there have been a number of research studies on the topic. So, it makes sense to step back and summarize what has been found.

 

In today’s Research News article “The impact of mindfulness-based interventions on doctors’ well-being and performance: A systematic review.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7003865/), Scheepers and colleagues review and summarize the published research studies on the effects of mindfulness training on the performance and well-being of doctors. They report on 24 published studies.

 

They report that the published studies found that mindfulness-based trainings significantly improved the performance and well-being of doctors. This was true particularly for group based mindfulness trainings and for trainings such as Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) that contained multiple elements of mindfulness trainings. There are “five different elements: (i) integration of mindfulness theory; (ii) provision of didactic information on mindfulness; (iii) development of self‐awareness about thoughts, feelings and bodily sensations; (iv) promotion of attentive and behavioural self‐regulation and positive qualities (curiosity, joy, compassion), and (v) training of meditation practice.” These positive effects were reported across different educational and hospital settings and equally for residents and specialists.

 

The accumulating evidence makes a convincing case for the efficacy of mindfulness-based trainings to improve the performance and well-being of physicians. This should improve their impacts on their patients’ health and should reduce the likelihood of eventual burnout. Although, the review did not focus on mechanisms it is likely that mindfulness has these effects by improving the doctors’ ability to withstand stress and improve their ability to effectively deal with their emotions.

 

So, improve doctor’s performance and well-being with mindfulness.

 

Mindfulness is especially suited to physicians, because it can help counteract the worrying, perfectionism and self-judgment that are so common among doctors.” – WellMD

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Scheepers, R. A., Emke, H., Epstein, R. M., & Lombarts, K. (2020). The impact of mindfulness-based interventions on doctors’ well-being and performance: A systematic review. Medical education, 54(2), 138–149. https://doi.org/10.1111/medu.14020

 

Abstract

Objectives

The well‐being of doctors is at risk, as evidenced by high burnout rates amongst doctors around the world. Alarmingly, burned‐out doctors are more likely to exhibit low levels of professionalism and provide suboptimal patient care. Research suggests that burnout and the well‐being of doctors can be improved by mindfulness‐based interventions (MBIs). Furthermore, MBIs may improve doctors’ performance (eg in empathy). However, there are no published systematic reviews that clarify the effects of MBIs on doctor well‐being or performance to inform future research and professional development programmes. We therefore systematically reviewed and narratively synthesised findings on the impacts of MBIs on doctors’ well‐being and performance.

Methods

We searched PubMed and PsycINFO from inception to 9 May 2018 and independently reviewed studies investigating the effects of MBIs on doctor well‐being or performance. We systematically extracted data and assessed study quality according to the Medical Education Research Study Quality Instrument (MERSQI), and narratively reported study findings.

Results

We retrieved a total of 934 articles, of which 24 studies met our criteria; these included randomised, (un)controlled or qualitative studies of average quality. Effects varied across MBIs with different training contents or formats: MBIs including essential mindfulness training elements, or employing group‐based training, mostly showed positive effects on the well‐being or performance of doctors across different educational and hospital settings. Doctors perceived both benefits (enhanced self‐ and other‐understanding) and challenges (time limitations and feasibility) associated with MBIs. Findings were subject to the methodological limitations of studies (eg the use of self‐selected participants, lack of placebo interventions, use of self‐reported outcomes).

Conclusions

This review indicates that doctors can perceive positive impacts of MBIs on their well‐being and performance. However, the evidence was subject to methodological limitations and does not yet support the standardisation of MBIs in professional development programmes. Rather, health care organisations could consider including group‐based MBIs as voluntary modules for doctors with specific well‐being needs or ambitions regarding professional development.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7003865/

Mindful Nurses are Better Nurses

Mindful Nurses are Better Nurses

 

By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.

 

“Mindfulness practice helps nurses to be more fully present with their patients and themselves. The ability to pay attention to what is happening “right now,” in this room with this patient, and not be distracted by other demands and concerns, creates space to use your wisdom and knowledge effectively and with care for the dignity of each patient. Being more present to your own experience and habitual responses increases your ability to manage stress and enhances decision-making, well-being, and self-efficacy.” – Sandra Bernstein

 

In high stress occupations, like nursing, burnout is all too prevalent. Burnout is the fatigue, cynicism, emotional exhaustion, sleep disruption, and professional inefficacy that comes with work-related stress. It is estimated that over 45% of healthcare workers experience burnout. It not only affects the healthcare providers personally, but also the patients, as it produces a loss of empathy and compassion. Burnout, in fact, it is a threat to the entire healthcare system. Currently, over a third of healthcare workers report that they are looking for a new job. Hence, burnout contributes to the shortage of doctors and nurses.

 

It is beyond the ability of the individual to change the environment to reduce stress and prevent burnout. So, it is important that methods be found to reduce the individual’s responses to stress; to make the individual more resilient when high levels of stress occur and thereby make them better in their roles as healthcare providers. Mindfulness has been shown to reduce the psychological and physiological responses to stress and improve well-being. Indeed, mindfulness has been shown to be helpful in treating and preventing burnoutincreasing resilience, and improving sleep. Hence, mindfulness may be a means to reduce burnout and improve well-being, dedication, and compassion in nurses.

 

In today’s Research News article “The mediating role of cognitive and affective empathy in the relationship of mindfulness with engagement in nursing.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6947930/), Pérez-Fuentes and colleagues recruited Spanish nurses and had them complete measures of mindfulness, empathy, including measures of cognitive and affective empathy, and work engagement including measures of vitality, dedication and absorption.

 

A correlational analysis revealed that the higher the level of mindfulness the higher the level of work engagement including vitality, dedication and absorption and cognitive empathy, and the lower the level of affective empathy. A mediation analysis of these data revealed that mindfulness had direct associations and also indirect associations via cognitive empathy with higher work engagement including vitality, dedication and absorption. That is that mindfulness was directly associated with work engagement and also indirectly associated as a result of mindfulness being associated with higher cognitive empathy that was, in turn, associated with higher work engagement.

 

These findings are correlational and as such causation cannot be established. Nevertheless, the findings suggest that mindful nurses have greater levels of energy (vigor), feel greater challenge and enthusiasm for their work (dedication), have greater attention to and concentration on their work (absorption), and have a better intellectual understanding of the feelings of others (cognitive empathy). In addition, mindful nurses, because they have higher levels of cognitive empathy, have additionally higher levels of work engagement.

 

These findings suggest that mindfulness is an important contributor to the work engagement, vigor, and absorption of nurses. This suggests that mindful nurses are better nurses. Future research should attempt to determine causation by training the nurses in mindfulness and observing whether work engagement increases and burnout decreases as a result of the training.

 

So, mindful nurses are better nurses.

 

Nursing is a high-stress profession that may be taking a toll on our nurses. Mindfulness-based programs can help nurses develop skills to manage clinical stress and improve their health; increase overall attention, empathy, and presence with patients and families; and experience work satisfaction, serenity, decreased incidental overtime, and reduced job burnout.” – Sue Penque

 

CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies

 

This and other Contemplative Studies posts are also available on Google+ https://plus.google.com/106784388191201299496/posts and on Twitter @MindfulResearch

 

Study Summary

 

Pérez-Fuentes, M., Gázquez Linares, J. J., Molero Jurado, M., Simón Márquez, M., & Martos Martínez, Á. (2020). The mediating role of cognitive and affective empathy in the relationship of mindfulness with engagement in nursing. BMC public health, 20(1), 16. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-019-8129-7

 

Abstract

Background

The work of health professionals is characterized by a high demand for psychological and emotional resources and high levels of stress. Therefore, the promotion of commitment and job well-being through strategies such as increased mindfulness, is important among nursing workers. Although mindfulness has shown positive effects in the health field, few studies have explored the mechanisms and processes underlying these results. We investigated the mediating role of empathy (cognitive/affective) in the effect of mindfulness on the dimensions of engagement in nursing professionals.

Methods

Sample was comprised of 1268 Spanish nurses between 22 and 62 years old, that completed the Utrecht Labor Engagement Scale and the adapted versions of Mindful Attention Awareness Scale and Basic Empathy Scale. The relationship between variables to be included in the regression analyses, bivariate correlations were carried out, and the descriptive statistics of these variables were also found. To estimate the mediation model was used, in this case for multiple mediation effects.

Results

Mindfulness is found to affect the Vigor and Dedication factors of engagement through cognitive empathy. While for the Absorption factor, the affective component of empathy also exerts a mediating role, although weaker than cognitive empathy. Cognitive empathy, as an individual factor, was shown to have a mediating effect between mindfulness and the factors of engagement in healthcare workers.

Conclusions

The level of mindfulness influences engagement of nursing professionals positively, and this result is mediated mainly by cognitive empathy. Both mindfulness and empathy are modifiable individual factors, so their intervention by designing and implementing specific programs, can increase the commitment and wellbeing of professionals generating benefits to workers and to their patients.

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6947930/