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Can Brief Online Mindfulness Programs Mitigate Healthcare Workers’ Burnout amid the COVID-19 Pandemic?

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Abstract

Objectives

During the pandemic, establishing effective interventions to mitigate burnout is essential to ensure the provision of stable healthcare. This study examined the efficacy of a 4-week online mindfulness program on healthcare workers’ burnout to explore whether brief online programs can influence healthcare workers’ wellbeing by decreasing signs and symptoms of burnout.

Methods

We examined differences between healthcare workers’ burnout (emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and personal accomplishment) at three time points (baseline, post-intervention, and follow-up survey) using linear regression analyses accounting and without accounting for covariates. Covariates included demographic (age, sex), work-related (year of work experience, mode of care), resiliency (the ability to bounce back from hardship), and mindfulness-related factors (number of practices per week, prior experience of mindfulness, number of sessions attended). A total of n = 130 healthcare workers in Ontario, Canada, participated in the study (October 2020 to March 2021).

Results

Without accounting for the covariates, the two components of burnout, emotional exhaustion (feelings of being emotionally overextended and exhausted by one’s work) and depersonalization (an unfeeling and impersonal response toward recipients of one’s service, care, treatment, or instruction) levels, were significantly lower after the 4-week mindfulness program compared to the baseline and remained lower after 4 weeks. However, the personal accomplishment level (feelings of competence and achievement in one’s work) remained unchanged after the mindfulness program. Resiliency significantly contributed to reducing emotional exhaustion. Number of mindfulness practices contributed to reducing emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and enhancing personal accomplishment.

Conclusions

The findings provide a basis for healthcare organizational development decision-makers to consider employee-facing mindfulness programs. It also informs curriculum designers of mindfulness education and training programs to create online programs for maximum efficacy.

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Data Availability

The datasets used and/or analyzed during the current study are available from the corresponding author upon reasonable request.

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Acknowledgements

We thank Fariha Chowdhury and Nadine Proulx for conducting a literature review, Nicole Adams for her support in data collection, and Nicole Mace for her support in tailoring the mindfulness program, and promoting and implementing the mindfulness program for healthcare workers through a frontline wellness program. We also thank Mindfulness Without Borders for their support in retooling the mindfulness program and Georgian College for their help in the study. Most importantly, we thank all the healthcare workers and facilitators who participated in this study.

Funding

This study was supported by a College and Community Innovation Program- Applied Research Rapid Response to COVID-19 Grant funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (Award # COVPJ 554453–20).

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Authors

Contributions

All authors: conceptualization. Soyeon Kim: data curation, writing—original draft preparation, quantitative data analysis. Sarah Hunter: critical revisions, writing—reviewing and editing.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Soyeon Kim.

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Ethics Approval and Consent To Participate

All data collection, analysis, and dissemination protocols were reviewed and approved by the Waypoint Centre for Mental Healthcare’s ethics review board (Protocol ref. # HPRA#20.07.27).

Informed Consent

Written informed consent was obtained from the participants for anonymized participant information to be published in this article.

Conflict of Interest

Soyeon Kim declares no conflict of interest. During the data collection period, Sarah Hunter worked with Mindfulness Without Border (MWB), facilitating mindfulness programs for other institutions. Sarah Hunter was no longer in contract with MWB during the manuscript preparation period.

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Kim, S., Hunter, S. Can Brief Online Mindfulness Programs Mitigate Healthcare Workers’ Burnout amid the COVID-19 Pandemic?. Mindfulness 14, 1930–1939 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12671-023-02175-8

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