Introduction: Burnout is a very prevalent type of stress among health professionals. It affects their well-being, performance, and attitude toward patients. This study assessed the effectiveness of a training program for primary health care professionals designed to reduce burnout and mood disturbance, increase empathy, and develop mindfulness.
Methods: Pragmatic randomized controlled trial with pre- and postintervention measurements of 68 primary health care professionals (43 in the intervention and 25 in the control group) in Spain. The intervention consisted of presentations of clinically relevant topics, mindfulness-based coping strategies, mindfulness practice, yoga, and group discussions (8 sessions of 2.5 hours per week plus a 1-day session of 8 hours). Outcome measures included the Maslach Burnout Inventory, Profile of Mood States, Jefferson Scale of Physician Empathy, Baer's Five Facets Mindfulness Questionnaire, and a questionnaire on changes in personal habits and mindfulness practice. Measurements were performed at baseline and after 8 weeks.
Results: The intervention group improved in the 4 scales measured. The magnitude of the change was large in total mood disturbance (difference between groups -7.1; standardized effect-size [SES] 1.15) and mindfulness (difference between groups 11; SES 0.9) and moderate in the burnout (difference between groups -7; SES 0.74) and empathy scales (difference between groups 5.2; SES 0.71). No significant differences were found in the control group.
Discussion: Our study supports the use of mindfulness-based programs as part of continuing professional education to reduce and prevent burnout, promote positive attitudes among health professionals, strengthen patient-provider relationships, and enhance well-being.
Keywords: burnout; evaluation-educational intervention; innovative educational intervention; interprofessional education; mindfulness; pragmatic controlled trial.
© 2014 The Alliance for Continuing Education in the Health Professions, the Society for Academic Continuing Medical Education, and the Council on Continuing Medical Education, Association for Hospital Medical Education.