Mindfulness Training Improves Stress Management in Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) Nurses

A new study has identified a promising way to improve stress management in pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) nurses. The pilot study, led by USC-affiliated Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles researchers, found that participating in a brief mindfulness meditation intervention helped nurses to reduce stress and burnout. Reduced levels of stress were also found one month after the intervention ended.

The study appeared online October 20th, 2014 in Journal of Pediatric Nursing and was directed by USC Associate Professor, Dr. Jeffrey Gold.

According to the authors, “Nurses are particularly vulnerable to stress and burnout, with little time in their schedule to commit to self-care or intensive stress reduction programs”. To address these issues, the researchers sought to determine if it would be feasible to deliver a brief mindfulness-based intervention on site at the PICU unit, and whether the intervention would be an effective method for nurses to manage stress.

The pilot intervention included 38 PICU nurses from an urban pediatric academic hospital. Participants received daily 5-minute mindfulness meditation practices over the course of 30 days. Intervention content was based on the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn, but was modified to be PICU-specific in order to address the specific challenges faced by PICU nurses.

Over one-half of the nurses on the unit showed interest in participating in the mindfulness-based intervention, and 89% of the nurses that signed up attended at least one intervention session. The authors concluded that these findings indicated an on-the-job mindfulness-based intervention is viable for this nursing population. In addition to reductions in stress and burnout, participants also reported improved job satisfaction and self-compassion.

The authors state that changes in stress, burnout, self-compassion, and job satisfaction have implications for improving nurses’ professional caregiving, career longevity, and interrelations on the unit.

Although future, larger studies are needed to expand on the results, according to the authors, the findings demonstrate that “brief interventions that support on-the-job self-care and stress-reduction may prove useful in hospital settings”.

Posted in Research.