An on-the-job mindfulness-based intervention for pediatric ICU nurses

by Gauthier, Tina S., Ph.D., UNIVERSITY OF THE WEST, 2013, 287 pages; 3566323


Nurses are vulnerable to stress and burnout commonly associated with the nursing profession. Studies over the last decade demonstrate the prevalence of nurse stress and burnout. Mindfulness-based interventions provide aspects of social support, stress reduction, promote self-efficacy and increase overall wellbeing for healthcare workers. There are few mindfulness interventions specifically for nurses and none for nurses on the PICU. Grounded in a Socially Engaged Buddhism (SEB) a brief mindfulness-based pilot intervention was designed specifically for pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) nurses at Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles (CHLA).

The first aim of the pilot intervention assessed the feasibility of a five-minute mindfulness meditation for nurses on the PICU before each work shift. The second aim investigated change in nursing stress, burnout, self-compassion, mindfulness and job satisfaction. The third aim examined whether religious/spiritual variables correlated with any change in stress and burnout over time. Using a pre-post-test design, 38 predominately white female nurses under 40 years of age with fewer than 5 years of nursing experience were studied at an urban academic pediatric hospital. The Nursing Stress Scale, the Mindfulness Attention Awareness Scale and the Self-Compassion Scale were administered at baseline, post-intervention and one month following. The intervention was found to be feasible for nurses on the PICU. A general linear model reported significant decreases in stress from baseline to post intervention and maintained one month following the intervention.

Integrating mindfulness meditation into the medical setting as a spiritually-based tool poses challenges. The current study was the first of its kind to address nurse stress and burnout through a mindfulness intervention at the workplace as a spiritual care service. Findings may inform future interventions that support on-the-job self-care and stress-reduction. The dissertation research contributes to the knowledge in fields of pastoral and spiritual care, religion and health, stress and health, social science and nursing. The study provides a critical examination of how Buddhist pedagogy and praxis is being popularized and applied to the mainstream medical ideology, as well as an example of an Engaged Buddhist approach to researching spirituality within healthcare.