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OA04.04. Changes in physiological and psychological markers of stress in hospital personnel after a low-dose mindfulness-based worksite intervention


To determine the efficacy of a pragmatic low dose mindfulness-based worksite intervention on biological and behavioral indices of stress in healthcare professionals caring for seriously ill patients.


Participants (n=32) were recruited among the Surgical Intensive Care Unit (SICU) personnel of a large university hospital, and were randomized to intervention or wait-list control groups, stratified by gender. The low dose 8-week mindfulness-based intervention was delivered on site, one hour before shift change.


Participants were representative of the SICU staff with 69% nurses, 88% females, age average of 44, and 11.8 (±10.1, SD) average years working in the SICU. Participant biological indices of stress, measured by the level of salivary α-amylase, was significantly reduced in the intervention group (t=2.562, p=0.026) only. Behaviorally, they rated their experience of stress using the Depression, Anxiety and Stress Scale (DASS-21), and rated sleep over the past month using the Pittsburg Sleep Quality Index (PSQI). There was a significant decrease of the scores on the DASS-21 stress subscale (t=2.245, p=0.040) and a significant improvement in the overall quality of sleep (t=2.482, p=0.027) between pre and post assessments in the intervention group with no changes for the wait list group. Work satisfaction also increased significantly (t=-3.2020, p=0.006) for the intervention group only.


These data indicate the effectiveness of a mindfulness-based intervention delivered at the worksite towards stress reduction for staff in a high stress, hospital environment. The SICU personnel care for trauma 1 and 2 level patients and patients with severe pathology recovering from major surgery, and are confronted with catastrophic events on a regular basis. Given the nature of the job, work-related stressful events in the SICU will not change, but the resiliency tools offered via the intervention may help maintain wellness and prevent the deleterious effects of stress.

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This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Klatt, M., Steinberg, B., Marks, D. et al. OA04.04. Changes in physiological and psychological markers of stress in hospital personnel after a low-dose mindfulness-based worksite intervention. BMC Complement Altern Med 12 (Suppl 1), O16 (2012).

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