Encouraging Mindfulness in Medical House Staff via Smartphone App

Stress and burnout are increasingly recognized as urgent issues among resident physicians, especially given the concerning implications of burnout on physician well-being and patient care outcomes | Academic Psychiatry

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The authors assessed how a mindfulness and meditation practice among residents, supported via a self-guided, smartphone-based mindfulness app, affects wellness as measured by prevalidated surveys.

Study limitations include self-guided app usage, a homogenous study subject population, insufficient study subjects to perform stratified analysis of the impact of specialty on the findings, lack of control group, and possible influence from the Hawthorne effect. This study suggests the feasibility and efficacy of a short mindfulness intervention delivered by a smartphone app to improve mindfulness and associated resident physician wellness parameters.

Full reference: Wen, L. et al. Encouraging Mindfulness in Medical House Staff via Smartphone App: A Pilot Study (2017) Academic Psychiatry. Published online: 09 August 2017

A systematic review of the impact of mindfulness on the well-being of healthcare professionals

This article is a systematic review of empirical studies pertaining to mindfulness in healthcare professionals | Journal of Clinical Psychology

Databases were reviewed from the start of records to January 2016. Eligibility criteria included empirical analyses of mindfulness and well-being outcomes acquired in relation to practice. 81 papers met the eligibility criteria, comprising a total of 3,805 participants. Studies were principally examined for outcomes such as burnout, distress, anxiety, depression, and stress.

Mindfulness was generally associated with positive outcomes in relation to most measures (although results were more equivocal with respect to some outcomes, most notably burnout).

Overall, mindfulness does appear to improve the well-being of healthcare professionals. However, the quality of the studies was inconsistent, so further research is needed, particularly high-quality randomized controlled trials.

Full reference: Lomas, T. et al. (2017) A systematic review of the impact of mindfulness on the well-being of healthcare professionals. Journal of Clinical Psychology. Published online: 28 July 2017

The effects of mindfulness-based interventions for health and social care undergraduate students

Health and social care undergraduate students experience stress due to high workloads and pressure to perform | Psychology, Health & Medicine

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Consequences include depression and burnout. Mindfulness may be a suitable way to reduce stress in health and social care degree courses. The objective of this systematic review is to identify and critically appraise the literature on the effects of Mindfulness-Based Interventions for health and social care undergraduate students.

PubMed, EMBASE, Psych Info, CINAHL, The Cochrane Library and Academic Search Complete were searched from inception to 21st November 2016. Studies that delivered Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy, or an intervention modelled closely on these, to health or social care undergraduate students were included. Eleven studies, representing medicine, nursing and psychology students met the inclusion criteria. The most commonly used measurement tools were; the Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire and the General Health Questionnaire.

Short term benefits relating to stress and mood were reported, despite all but one study condensing the curriculum. Gender and personality emerged as factors likely to affect intervention results. Further research with long-term follow-up is required to definitively conclude that mindfulness is an appropriate intervention to mentally prepare health and social care undergraduate students for their future careers.

Full reference: O’Driscoll, M. et al. (2017) The effects of mindfulness-based interventions for health and social care undergraduate students – a systematic review of the literature. Psychology, Health & Medicine. Vol. 22 (Issue 7) pp. 851-865

Meditation Program and Healthcare Providers’ Interoceptive Awareness, Compassion Fatigue, and Burnout

Research suggests that meditation can relieve stress, cultivate self-regulation skills, improve ability to focus, and modify risk for compassion fatigue (CF) and burnout in healthcare providers | Journal of Hospice & Palliative Nursing

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This pilot study examined a novel 6-week technology-assisted meditation program, coherently grounded in the system of yoga therapy that required minimal time. Five 10- to 12-minute meditations were offered via smartphone apps supported by biweekly e-mails. Hospice and palliative professionals at a Midwestern US healthcare network participated in the program (n = 36). Each meditation integrated attention, synchronized breath, gentle movements and a meditation focus. Weekly e-mails introduced a new meditation and reminded participants how and why to practice.

The participants used the meditations a mean of 17.18(SD, 8.69) times. Paired t tests found significant presurvey to postsurvey improvements for CF/burnout (P < .05) and interoceptive awareness (P < .001). Participation significantly heightened perceived ability and propensity to direct attention to bodily sensations, increased awareness of physical sensations’ connections to emotions, and increased active body listening. The technology-assisted yoga therapy meditation program successfully motivated providers to meditate. The program required minimal time yet seemed to reduce CF/burnout and improve emotional awareness and self-regulation by heightening attention to present-moment bodily sensations.

Full reference: Heeter, C. et al. (2017) Effects of a Technology-Assisted Meditation Program on Healthcare Providers’ Interoceptive Awareness, Compassion Fatigue, and Burnout. Journal of Hospice & Palliative Nursing. Volume 19 (Issue 4) pp. 314–322

Enhancing Patient Safety Through Physician Health and Well-being Research.

Keeping medical practitioners healthy is an important consideration for workforce satisfaction and retention, as well as public safety | Journal of Patient Safety

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However, there is limited evidence demonstrating how to best care for this group. The absence of data is related to the lack of available funding in this area of research. Supporting investigations that examine physician health often “fall through the cracks” of traditional funding opportunities, landing somewhere between patient safety and workforce development priorities. To address this, funders must extend the scope of current grant opportunities by broadening the scope of patient safety and its relationship to physician health. Other considerations are allocating a portion of doctors’ licensing fees to support physician health research and encourage researchers to collaborate with interested stakeholders who can underwrite the costs of studies. Ultimately, funding studies of physician health benefits not only the community of doctors but also the millions of patients receiving care each year.

Full reference: Brooks, E. et al. (2017) Investing in Physicians Is Investing in Patients: Enhancing Patient Safety Through Physician Health and Well-being Research. Journal of Patient Safety: Published online: July 20, 20.7

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

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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)

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

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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)