Improve Flow, Communication Skills, and Safety Attitudes of Surgeons with Mindfulness
By John M. de Castro, Ph.D.
“Once you can communicate with yourself, you’ll be able to communicate outwardly with more clarity. The way in is the way out.”― Thích Nhất Hạnh
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. Preventing burnout 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 burnout, increasing resilience, and improving sleep. Mindfulness has also been shown to improve flow, a state of mind that is characterized by a complete absorption with the task at hand, often resulting in enhanced skilled performance. Thus, there is a need to investigate how mindfulness effects doctors’ well-being, performance, and flow.
In today’s Research News article “Focused-Attention Meditation Improves Flow, Communication Skills, and Safety Attitudes of Surgeons.” (See summary below or view the full text of the study at: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC9099589/ ) Chen and colleagues recruited surgeons and randomly assigned them to either a wait-list control condition or to receive 50 minutes of focused meditation practice 3 times per week for 8 weeks. They were measured before and after training for work-related flow, communications skills, safety attitudes, and clinical adverse events.
They found that in comparison to baseline and the wait-list control group the surgeons who received mindfulness training had significantly increased levels of work-related flow, communications skills, and safety attitudes. Eight weeks after the training the mindfulness trained surgeons had significantly lower levels of clinical adverse events.
Hence, mindfulness training significantly improved surgeons’ flow and medical performance. This further suggests that mindfulness training should be recommended for physicians.
“physicians could use mindfulness as a stand-alone technique prior to engaging in bad news delivery to patients.” – AMRA
CMCS – Center for Mindfulness and Contemplative Studies
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Chen H, Liu C, Zhou F, Cao XY, Wu K, Chen YL, Liu CY, Huang DH, Chiou WK. Focused-Attention Meditation Improves Flow, Communication Skills, and Safety Attitudes of Surgeons. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2022 Apr 27;19(9):5292. doi: 10.3390/ijerph19095292. PMID: 35564687; PMCID: PMC9099589.
Objective: Patient safety is a worldwide problem and a focus of academic research. Human factors and ergonomics (HFE) is an approach to improving healthcare work systems and processes. From the perspective of the cognitive ergonomics of HFE, the aim of this study is to improve the flow level, communication skills, and safety attitudes of surgeons through focused-attention meditation (FAM) training, thus helping to reduce adverse clinical events. Methods: In total, 140 surgeons were recruited from three hospitals in China and randomly divided into two groups (FAM group and control group). The FAM group received 8 weeks of FAM training, while the control group was on the waiting list and did not receive any interventions. Three scales (WOLF, LCSAS, and SAQ-C) were used to measure the data of three variables (flow, communication skills, and safety attitude), respectively, at two times, before and after the intervention (pre-test and post-test). The incidence of adverse events during the intervention was also collected for both groups. Results: The ANOVA results showed that all three variables had a significant main effect of time and significant interactions between time and group. The independent-sample T-test results showed that the incidence of adverse events during the intervention was significantly lower in the FAM group than in the control group. Conclusions: The intervention of FAM could significantly improve surgeons’ flow levels, communication skills, and safety attitudes, potentially helping to reduce adverse clinical events.