Mindfulness, perceived stress, and subjective well-being: a correlational study in primary care health professionals

BMC Complement Altern Med. 2015 Sep 2:15:303. doi: 10.1186/s12906-015-0823-0.


Background: Primary health care professionals (PHPs) usually report high levels of distress and burnout symptoms related to job strain. Mindfulness, defined as non-judgmental-present-moment awareness, seems to be a moderator in the causal association between life stressors and well-being. This study aimed to verify correlations among self-reported mindfulness, perceived stress (PS), and subjective well-being (SW) in Brazilian PHPs.

Methods: We performed a correlational cross-sectional study in a purposive sample of Brazilian PHPs (physicians, nurses, nursing assistants, and community health workers), working in community-oriented primary care programs (known locally as "Family Health Programs"). We used validated self-reporting instruments: the Mindful Attention Awareness Scale (MAAS), the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS), and the Subjective Well-being Scale (SWS). We performed a multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA), through regression coefficients (beta) in relation to the professional category (nursing assistant), in addition to the length of time in the same job (under than 6 months) that had indicated the lowest level of PS.

Results: Participants (n=450) comprised community health workers (65.8%), nursing assistants (18%), registered nurses (10.0%), and doctors (family physicians) (6.0%); 94% were female and 83.1% had worked in the same position for more than one year. MANOVA regression analysis showed differences across professional categories and length of time in the same job position in relation to mindfulness, PS, and SW. Nurses demonstrated lower levels of mindfulness, higher PS, and SW negative affect, as well as lower SW positive affect. Being at work for 1 year or longer showed a clear association with higher PS and lower SW positive affect, and no significance with mindfulness levels. Pearson's coefficient values indicated strong negative correlations between mindfulness and PS, and medium correlations between mindfulness and SW.

Conclusion: In this study, there were clear correlations between mindfulness, PS, and SW across different primary care professional categories and time in the same job position, suggesting specific vulnerabilities that should be addressed through the development of staff awareness, stress prevention, and well-being interventions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Brazil / epidemiology
  • Burnout, Professional / epidemiology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Health Personnel / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mindfulness*
  • Primary Health Care
  • Stress, Psychological / epidemiology*