A Potential Solution to Burnout and Psychological Distress Among Healthcare Professionals

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Burnout, insomnia, and psychological distress have become increasingly common among healthcare professionals.

In response, there is a growing need for effective interventions to address these issues.

Transcendental Meditation as a Potential Solution to Burnout

One potential solution is Transcendental Meditation (TM), a technique that involves sitting comfortably with eyes closed and silently repeating a mantra for 20 minutes twice a day.

TM has been shown to have a range of benefits, including reducing stress, anxiety, and depression while improving overall well-being.

To evaluate the effectiveness of TM in reducing burnout and enhancing well-being among healthcare professionals, a study was conducted on 65 healthcare providers at three South Florida hospitals.

It took place from the Autumn of 2020 through the summer of 2021.

Participants were instructed in the TM technique and practiced it at home for 20 minutes twice a day.

A parallel “lifestyle as usual” control group was also enrolled.

Validated measurement scales were administered at baseline, 2 weeks, one, and three months.

TM “rapidly and significantly” reduced burnout, insomnia, and more

The study found that the TM technique rapidly and significantly reduced symptoms of burnout, insomnia, and psychological distress while improving overall well-being.

After two weeks, the authors write, symptoms of somatization, depression, anxiety, and overall psychological distress in the TM group “had all shown near 45% reductions, while insomnia, emotional exhaustion, and well-being had improved by 33%, 16%, and 11% respectively.”

The effects were seen as soon as two weeks post-test and persisted through three months.

Compliance with daily practice of meditation was good, with over 80% of the participants still meditating at least once a day four months after the study.

The study expands on the growing body of literature showing the effectiveness of TM in alleviating depression, anxiety, and other psychological symptoms.

The results suggest that TM should be considered as a rapid intervention for healthcare worker burnout.

Limitations

The study has some limitations, including the lack of a placebo control group, and the fact that the study was conducted at only three hospitals in South Florida.

However, the study’s strengths include its randomized controlled design, the use of validated measurement scales, and the inclusion of healthcare professionals from a wide range of disciplines.

The study has important implications for healthcare organizations and policymakers, who should consider implementing TM programs as a way to support the well-being of healthcare workers.

The study also highlights the need for further research on the effectiveness of TM in other populations and settings.

The main researchers involved in this study were Mark S. Nestor, Alec Lawson, and Daniel Fischer.

They are affiliated with the Center for Clinical and Cosmetic Research (CCCR) in Aventura, Florida.

The study was supported in part by the David Lynch Foundation.

Study: “Improving the mental health and well-being of healthcare providers using the transcendental meditation technique during the COVID-19 pandemic: A parallel population study
Published: March 3, 2023, in PLOS One
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0265046
Authors: Mark S. Nestor, Alec Lawson, Daniel Fischer

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