Our study aims to test whether a mindfulness program delivered by a smartphone app can reduce occupational stress levels among Emergency Department (ED) staff. This study will recruit staff at two regional EDs. Staff will practice short session mindfulness daily, for four weeks, using a smartphone meditation app. The study will determine if, by using the app, staff levels of occupational stress are reduced and overall wellness increased. The levels of stress reduction will be compared before and after the intervention.
Working in an ED can be stressful. It has been suggested that up to half ED doctors and nurses may suffer from burnout due to high workload, overcrowding and limited resources. Staff stress and its negative consequence pose challenging issues to both individual clinicians and healthcare organisations. Sub-optimal wellness of staff is closely associated with poor patient care, more medical incidents and a high staff turnover rate. One way to reduce staff stress levels is by promoting staff coping skills and wellness. Mindfulness is a mental technique to focus self-awareness at the present moment and non-judgmentally. It has been used widely to promote staff workplace wellness. Smartphone apps are a relatively new delivery method for mindfulness that has not yet been tested among ED staff.
The qualitative study found that most participants appreciated the use of the intervention and learned a new way to cope with workplace stress and promote wellbeing. Some participants were able to embed the intervention in their daily life.
A range of perceived benefits, barriers and facilitators were reported by participants, which will be valuable to implement digital mindfulness intervention in ED workforce.
The positive findings of the study will also help organisations to identify a low-cost and feasible stress management and preventative intervention, which could be replicated in other healthcare environment.
Hui (Grace) Xu
Dr Anthony Tuckett
Dr Robert Eley
Dr Michael Butterfield
Dr John Sutherland
Ms Tracey McTigue