As compared with the general population, hospitalists are especially prone to stress and burnout, according to an abstract published in the Journal of Hospital Medicine.
The study’s scoring showed that hospitalists started with higher levels of perceived stress than the general population of adults of similar ages. Among hospitalists who attended an average of two mindfulness sessions over five weeks, there was a statistically significant increase in mindfulness and a decrease in perceived stress.
The low number of participants, seven hospitalists, makes extrapolation difficult, but the results are suggestive.
“Even with those seven people, we did see there was a significant difference in their stress and an increase in their mindfulness, which I thought was kind of impressive just for going to only two or three sessions,” says study co-author Dennis Chang, MD, of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. “I think the biggest thing that I would like to see is if it actually improves how we take care of our patients, not just ourselves.”
Dr. Chang says one factor that inspired the study was a hospital survey.
“We do an annual survey of our hospitalists, and it seemed that we had, as a lot of hospital groups do, a burnout problem: People were feeling a little bit burnt out,” Dr. Chang says. “We read some articles on mindfulness, and we thought it might be interesting to see if it would help our hospital.”
Starting this Fall, Mount Sinai will offer a tailored mindfulness session for providers.
“We’re hoping we’ll see if these results really stand up,” Dr. Chang says.
He encourages hospitalists to learn more about mindfulness and to realize that small changes can have an impact.
“Even doing some breathing exercises for a couple of minutes a day can actually make a big difference,” he says. “It doesn’t take a lot of time. Maybe even going to one mindfulness session can give you some tools that you can use. It can make a huge difference in your stress levels and how you take care of patients.”
- Chablani S, Nguyen VT, Chang D. Mindfulness for hospitalists: a pilot study investigating the effect of a mindfulness initiative on mindfulness and perceived stress among hospitalists [abstract]. J Hosp Med. 2016;11(suppl 1). Accessed September 9, 2016.