Mindfulness-based stress reduction in middle-aged and older adults with memory complaints

Study suggests that Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) is feasible and well received among older individuals with cognitive complaints.

Objectives: In a rapidly aging world population, an increasingly large group faces age-related decline in cognitive functioning. Cognitive complaints of older adults are often related to worries and concerns associated with age-related functional decline. Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) can successfully target stress, worry and ruminative thinking, but the applicability of this method in middle-aged and older adults with memory complaints is unclear.

Method: Patients of a university hospital memory clinic (n = 13), aged 45–85 years, with memory complaints but no diagnosis of cognitive disorder, participated in a standard 8-week MBSR program, consisting of weekly group meetings and a one-day silent retreat. After completion, semi-structured qualitative interviews were conducted. Questionnaires (administered before, one week after and five weeks after the intervention) assessed quality of life, psychological distress (stress, anxiety and depressive symptoms), mindfulness, self-compassion, and subjective memory functioning. Neurocognitive functioning was assessed online, before and after the intervention.

Results: The qualitative analysis showed positive effects of the training (e.g. increased serenity), many participants worrying less about memory complaints. The self-reported measures were in line with the results of the qualitative analysis.

Conclusion: This exploratory mixed-methods study suggests that MBSR is feasible and well received among older individuals with cognitive complaints.

Full reference:  Lotte Berk et al. | Mindfulness-based stress reduction in middle-aged and older adults with memory complaints: a mixed-methods study  | Aging & Mental Health |  Published online: 19 Jul 2017


Does employees’ subjective well-being affect workplace performance?

This article uses linked employer–employee data to investigate the relationship between employees’ subjective well-being and workplace performance in Britain | Human Relations


The analyses show a clear, positive and statistically significant relationship between the average level of job satisfaction at the workplace and workplace performance. The relationship is present in both cross-sectional and panel analyses and is robust to various estimation methods and model specifications. In contrast, we find no association between levels of job-related affect and workplace performance. Ours is the first study of its kind for Britain to use nationally representative data and it provides novel findings regarding the importance of worker job satisfaction in explaining workplace performance. The findings suggest that there is a prima facie case for employers to maintain and raise levels of job satisfaction among their employees. They also indicate that initiatives to raise aggregate job satisfaction should feature in policy discussions around how to improve levels of productivity and growth.

Full reference: Bryson, A. et al. (2017) Does employees’ subjective well-being affect workplace performance? Human Relations. Vol. 70 (no.08)

Pet dogs as promoters of wellbeing

The rise in life expectancy requires strategies to enable healthy ageing and the promotion of a high quality of life in old age | British Journal of Community Nursing


Poor mental health including depression and social isolation can blight older people’s lives. Despite the positive benefits of physical activity for both mental and physical health, only a minority of those over 65 years are attaining the recommended levels of physical activity. The evidence relating to the benefits of pet dogs as promoters of wellbeing is set out in this article, although meeting their care needs may place an additional strain on an older person and/or their carer who has limited resources and physical capabilities.

Full reference: While, A. (2017) Pet dogs as promoters of wellbeing. British Journal of Community Nursing. Vol. 22 (no. 7)

Using kaizen (continuous improvement) to improve employee well-being

Participatory intervention approaches that are embedded in existing organizational structures may improve the efficiency and effectiveness of organizational interventions, but concrete tools are lacking | Human Relations


Image source: Sacha Chua – Flickr // CC BY 2.0

In the present article, we use a realist evaluation approach to explore the role of kaizen, a lean tool for participatory continuous improvement, in improving employee well-being in two cluster-randomized, controlled participatory intervention studies. Case 1 is from the Danish Postal Service, where kaizen boards were used to implement action plans. The results of multi-group structural equation modeling showed that kaizen served as a mechanism that increased the level of awareness of and capacity to manage psychosocial issues, which, in turn, predicted increased job satisfaction and mental health. Case 2 is from a regional hospital in Sweden that integrated occupational health processes with a pre-existing kaizen system. Multi-group structural equation modeling revealed that, in the intervention group, kaizen work predicted better integration of organizational and employee objectives after 12 months, which, in turn, predicted increased job satisfaction and decreased discomfort at 24 months. The findings suggest that participatory and structured problem-solving approaches that are familiar and visual to employees can facilitate organizational interventions.

Full reference: von Thiele Schwarz, U. et al. (2017) Using kaizen to improve employee well-being: Results from two organizational intervention studies. Human Relations. Vol. 70 (no.08)

Genetic and environmental factors in shaping well-being

Converging evidence suggests that well-being plays an important role in promoting and maintaining mental health across the life span | Aging & Mental Health


Background: It has been shown that well-being has a considerable heritable component, but little is known about the specific genes involved.

Methods: In this study, we investigated a healthy sample (N = 298) that was genotyped for the serotonin transporter-linked polymorphic region (5-HTTLPR). We hypothesized that 5-HTTLPR gene variation would influence well-being, and additionally investigated interaction effects with age and the environmental influence of early life stress (ELS).

Results: Using multiple regression, our results showed a significant three-way interaction between genotype, ELS, and age. Exploration of this interaction showed that young subjects had decreased levels of well-being if they were exposed to ELS and homozygous for the short variant of 5-HTTLPR. This relationship was reversed in old age: subjects that were exposed to ELS and carried the long variant of 5-HTTLPR had decreased levels of well-being.

Conclusion: Our results indicate that genetic and environmental factors have joint effects on well-being that are susceptible to profound changes across the life span.

Full reference: Gärtner, M. et al. (2017) The interplay of genetic and environmental factors in shaping well-being across the lifespan: Evidence from the serotonin transporter gene. Aging & Mental Health. Published online: 7th July 2017

Mindfulness and compassion-oriented practices at work reduce distress and enhance self-care of palliative care teams

Maintaining a sense of self-care while providing patient centered care, can be difficult for practitioners in palliative medicine | BMC Palliative Care


Background: We aimed to pilot an “on the job” mindfulness and compassion-oriented meditation training for interdisciplinary teams designed to reduce distress, foster resilience and strengthen a prosocial motivation in the clinical encounter.

Results: Significant improvements were found in two of three burnout components (emotional exhaustion and personal accomplishment), anxiety, stress, two emotional regulation competences and joy at work. Furthermore, 85% of the individual goals were attained. Compliance and acceptance rates were high and qualitative data revealed a perceived enhancement of self-care, the integration of mindful pauses in work routines, a reduction in rumination and distress generated in the patient contact as well as an enhancement of interpersonal connection skills. An improvement of team communication could also be identified.

Conclusions: Our findings suggest that the training may be a feasible, effective and practical way of reducing caregiver-distress and enhancing the resources of palliative care teams.

Full reference: Orellana-Rios, C.L. et al. (2017) Mindfulness and compassion-oriented practices at work reduce distress and enhance self-care of palliative care teams: a mixed-method evaluation of an “on the job“ program. BMC Palliative Care. Published: 6th July 2017

Being mindful of mental health: The role of local government in mental health and wellbeing

This report explores how councils influence the mental wellbeing of our communities and how council services, from social care to parks to open spaces to education to housing, help to make up the fabric of mental health support for the people in our communities | LGA


Image source: LGA

This report explores how councils influence the mental wellbeing of our communities and how council services, from social care to parks to open spaces to education to housing, help to make up the fabric of mental health support for the people in our communities. Many of our partner organisations have kindly contributed their view of the role of local government in mental health.

The World Health Organisation describes mental health as ‘a state of wellbeing in which every individual realises his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community’. Good mental health is essential for a healthy and prosperous society. However, it is easy to focus on what happens when a person becomes mentally ill, and how the health service intervenes, rather than how to keep our communities mentally well in the first place, preventing mental health issues arising, intervening early if problems do start surfacing, and helping people manage their lives going forward. This is where councils play a fundamental role in the mental health and wellbeing of the population.