Purpose: Burnout, attrition, and low work satisfaction of primary care physicians are growing concerns and can have a negative influence on health care. Interventions for clinicians that improve work-life balance are few and poorly understood. We undertook this study as a first step in investigating whether an abbreviated mindfulness intervention could increase job satisfaction, quality of life, and compassion among primary care clinicians.
Methods: A total of 30 primary care clinicians participated in an abbreviated mindfulness course. We used a single-sample, pre-post design. At 4 points in time (baseline, and 1 day, 8 weeks, and 9 months postintervention), participants completed a set of online measures assessing burnout, anxiety, stress, resilience, and compassion. We used a linear mixed-effects model analysis to assess changes in outcome measures.
Results: Participants had improvements compared with baseline at all 3 follow-up time points. At 9 months postintervention, they had significantly better scores (1) on all Maslach Burnout Inventory burnout subscales-Emotional Exhaustion (P =.009), Depersonalization (P = .005), and Personal Accomplishment (P <.001); (2) on the Depression (P =.001), Anxiety (P =.006), and Stress (P = .002) subscales of the Depression Anxiety Stress Scales-21; and (3) for perceived stress (P = .002) assessed with the Perceived Stress Scale. There were no significant changes on the 14-item Resilience Scale and the Santa Clara Brief Compassion Scale.
Conclusions: In this uncontrolled pilot study, participating in an abbreviated mindfulness training course adapted for primary care clinicians was associated with reductions in indicators of job burnout, depression, anxiety, and stress. Modified mindfulness training may be a time-efficient tool to help support clinician health and well-being, which may have implications for patient care.
Keywords: Burnout; anxiety; clinicians; compassion; depression; job satisfaction; mindfulness; physicians; primary care; stress.