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Web-based MBI combats work stress and burnout

Posted: 08.20.2014 | by AMRA

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Occupational stress is not only harmful to employees, but is also costly to employers in terms of increased health-care expenses and decreased employee attendance, morale, and performance. Mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) may have an important role to play in combatting occupational stress, but MBSR programs are time-intensive and often challenging to implement in the workplace, especially on a scale expansive enough to benefit large corporations.

Aikins et al. [Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine] developed an abbreviated MBI modeled after MBSR that was delivered on a web-based virtual classroom platform. The intervention makes use of a live instructor, webinar-and-email technology, and a printed workbook/practice guide to deliver 7, 1 hour-long, virtual classes and support 10.8 hours of home-based practice. The durations of the body scan, meditation, and yoga sessions were shortened to accommodate the hour-long format, there was no daylong retreat, and workplace-relevant material was included in the syllabus.

Eighty-nine Dow Chemical Company employees were randomly assigned to either the MBI or a wait-list control. Only 66 participants completed the study, due in part to the 6 MBI and 10 wait-list control subjects who never attended a class after being initially assigned to their groups. MBI participants significantly improved their mindfulness (as measured by the Five-Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire), resilience, and physical, emotional, and cognitive vigor, and decreased their perceived stress compared with wait-list controls.

Treatment gains were maintained or continued to improve at six-month follow-up, with the exception of a small, non-significant rise in perceived stress. MBI participants reported significant decreases in high-stress days, burnout, and fast-food consumption, as well as increases in fruit and vegetable consumption.

Eighty-seven percent of the participants rated the program as […]

August 11th, 2014|News|

Worker safety practices accounted for by mindfulness

Posted: 08.04.2014 | by AMRA

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Food service industry workers (e.g., cooks, waiters, and busboys) are expected to keep their productivity high and their customers happy under trying circumstances. Maintaining awareness of food safety to prevent the spread of foodborne disease is a central worker role.

In day-to-day operations, workers are expected to be aware of and reject previously thawed deliveries, heat foods to their proper temperature, and maintain hygiene through proper hand washing and food handling. Food service workers do not always follow safety protocols, however, and sometimes get distracted or misjudge priorities.

Betts & Hinsz [Current Psychology] explored the degree to which dispositional mindfulness (as measured by the Mindful Attention Awareness Scale) might contribute to employees’ attention to safety. Study measures included the dispositional mindfulness, food safety knowledge, and self-reported safety practices of 428 university students who worked at least part-time in the food service industry.

Results from the study showed that knowledge of food safety protocols alone accounted for only 3% of the actual variance in employees’ food safety practices. When dispositional mindfulness and its differential relationship with differing levels of food safety knowledge were taken into consideration, however, about 15% of the variance in food safety was explained. Mindfulness was positively correlated (r = 0.35) with food service safety practice. Especially important was that the less workers actually knew about food safety, the more mindfulness contributed to safety practice.

The study suggests that level of dispositional mindfulness is an important variable in determining the extent to which food service workers safely carry out their work responsibilities, but the study is limited by its reliance on self-report measures and its failure to rule out the impact of social desirability […]

August 4th, 2014|News|

Mindfulness Relieves Burnout in Grade School Teachers

Posted from archive: 06.25.2013 | by AMRA

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Roeser et al. [Journal of Education Psychology] tested an 8-week mindfulness training, based on MBSR but designed specifically for grade school teachers, that focused group discussions and homework assignments on teaching-related concerns. Teachers (N=113) from Canada and the U.S. were randomly assigned to either mindfulness training or a wait-list control.

Teachers in the mindfulness condition showed higher levels of self-reported mindfulness (as measured by the FFMQ) and occupational self-compassion, and lower levels of self-reported occupational stress and burnout, anxiety, and depression than did controls both at program’s end and at 3-month follow-up. The effect sizes were large, ranging from 0.57 to 1.56. Changes in stress, burnout, depression, and anxiety were all mediated by changes in mindfulness and occupational self-compassion.

The Canadian teachers also completed an objective measure of working memory (the ability to hold multiple items of information in mind simultaneously) using a task requiring the recall of strings of digits while checking math problems for accuracy.

Teachers in the mindfulness group showed significantly better working memory capacity after training than did controls, but the effects on working memory were small, ranging from 0.15 to 0.33. Measures of cortisol, blood pressure, and heart rate were also obtained from the Canadian teachers, but yielded no significant changes over time. Most teachers (87%) completed the program, and 98 would recommend it to their peers. Average ratings on a 5-point scale of perceived benefit were high, both for professional (4.10) and personal (4.58) benefit.

Reference:

Roeser, R. W., Schonert-Reichl, K. A., Jha, A., Cullen, M., Wallace, L., Wilensky, R., . . . Harrison, J. (2013). Mindfulness training and reductions in teacher stress and burnout: Results from two randomized, waitlist-control […]

January 3rd, 2014|News|

Mindful Power Plant Operators in High Complexity Jobs Enact Safer Behaviors

Posted from archive: 06.06.2013 | by AMRA

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Zhang et al. [Personality and Individual Differences] validated the factor structure of the Freiberg Mindfulness Inventory (FMI) in a Chinese population, and investigated the effects of trait mindfulness on the job performance of Chinese nuclear power plant operators. The FMI validation study (n=294) yielded a two-factor solution (Presence and Acceptance).

The authors then compared supervisor-rated task performance, safety compliance, and safety participation in two groups of power plant operators: control room operators (CRO) who monitor over 1,000 displays and maintain responsibility for overall reactor safety (a high complexity job), and field operators (FO) who monitor just a few pieces of frontline equipment and have limited decision-making responsibility (a low complexity job).

The authors hypothesized that trait Presence would be an asset for high complexity jobs, but less of an asset for low complexity jobs. Their reasoning was that mindfulness might consume limited cognitive resources that could interfere with speed and efficiency in low complexity jobs. Presence turned out to be positively correlated with CRO (high complexity) task performance, CRO safety participation, and CRO safety compliance, but negatively correlated with FO (low complexity) task performance, and unrelated to either FO safety compliance or participation. Trait Acceptance was unrelated to any of the work performance or safety measures.

This study suggests that mindfulness might aid in vocational tasks involving the processing of multiple streams of information along with complex decision-making responsibilities. However, mindfulness might be less relevant on routine tasks when speed is of the essence and the cost of error is low.

Reference:

Zhang, J., Ding, W., Li, Y., & Wu, C. (2013). Task complexity matters: The influence of trait mindfulness on task and safety performance of […]

January 2nd, 2014|News|