Mantra meditation programme for emergency department staff: a qualitative study

BMJ Open. 2018 Sep 24;8(9):e020685. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2017-020685.


Objectives: Rates of burnout and stress in healthcare practitioners are steadily increasing. Emergency department (ED) staff are particularly susceptible to such poor outcomes. Mantra meditation (MM) may contribute to increased well-being. The primary aim of this study was to obtain indepth qualitative feedback on ED staff's experience of a MM programme. A secondary objective was to harness staff's perception of the ED working environment.

Design: Qualitative study.

Setting: ED in St James' Hospital, Dublin, Ireland.

Participants: Doctors, nurses, allied health professionals and administrative staff (n=10, eight women, mean age 35.6 years) working in the ED who attended a MM programme.

Methods: Semistructured interviews were conducted by a trained independent researcher. Interviews were transcribed and thematically analysed.

Results: Five main themes and six subthemes were identified: work pressure and perceived stress; perceived benefits of meditation (with subthemes of increased attention/awareness, improved emotion regulation and new coping mechanisms, relaxation and sleep quality); conflicting attitudes to practice; barriers to meditation practice (with subthemes of schedule, length of practice and individual differences); and facilitators to practice.

Conclusion: ED staff in this study described the demands of their work and voiced a need for a workplace well-being programme. Our findings suggest that MM might represent a viable tool to develop attention and awareness, improve emotion regulation and improve their capacity to cope with stress, which may impact their workplace well-being, wider health service, patient safety and quality of care. Support from the organisation is considered to be integral to embedding of a workplace well-being programme, such as the practice of meditation into their daily lives.

Keywords: emergency medicine; healthcare professionals; mantra; meditation; qualitative research; wellbeing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adult
  • Attention
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Burnout, Professional / prevention & control*
  • Emergency Service, Hospital*
  • Emotional Intelligence
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Meditation / methods*
  • Personnel, Hospital / psychology*
  • Qualitative Research
  • Relaxation
  • Sleep
  • Workload / psychology
  • Workplace / psychology