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Does a modified mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) course have the potential to reduce stress and burnout in NHS GPs? Feasibility study

  • Kate Hamilton-West (a1), Tracy Pellatt-Higgins (a2) and Neil Pillai (a3)

Abstract

Aim

To explore, for the first time, whether a modified mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) course has the potential to reduce stress and burnout among National Health Service (NHS) General Practitioners.

Background

There is a crisis of low morale among NHS GPs, with most describing their workload as ‘unmanageable’. MBCT has been demonstrated to improve stress and burnout in other populations, but has not yet been evaluated in a cohort of NHS GPs.

Methods

NHS GPs in South East England (n=22) attended a modified version of the MBCT course approved by National Institute for Health and Care Excellence for prevention of depressive relapse. This comprised eight weekly 2-h sessions with homework (mindfulness practice) between sessions. Participants completed the Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI) and Perceived Stress Scale (PSS) before (baseline) and then again one month (T2) and three months (T3) after attending the course. We also obtained qualitative data on participants’ experiences of the course.

Findings

Compliance with the intervention was very high. All GPs attended at least six sessions and all completed baseline questionnaires. At T2, data were obtained from 21 participants (95%); PSS scores were significantly lower than at baseline (P<0.001), as were MBI emotional exhaustion (P<0.001) and depersonalization scores (P=0.0421). At T3 we obtained data for 13 participants (59%); PSS scores and MBI emotional exhaustion scores were significantly lower (P<0.001; P=0.0024, respectively) and personal accomplishment scores were significantly higher (P<0.001) than at baseline. Participants reported that the course helped them to manage work pressures, feel more relaxed, enjoy their work and experience greater empathy and compassion (for self, colleagues and patients). Findings of this preliminary evaluation are promising. Further research is needed to evaluate this approach within a larger randomized-controlled trial.

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Copyright

Corresponding author

Author for correspondence: Dr Kate Hamilton-West, Centre for Health Services Studies, University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent, CT2 7NF, UK. E-mail: k.e.hamilton-west@kent.ac.uk

References

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Keywords

Does a modified mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) course have the potential to reduce stress and burnout in NHS GPs? Feasibility study

  • Kate Hamilton-West (a1), Tracy Pellatt-Higgins (a2) and Neil Pillai (a3)

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