Reduce nurse stress levels with a workplace intervention

A workplace mindfulness-based intervention can reduce the stress levels of healthcare workers in high-stress settings, like nurses in an intensive care unit, according to a study from The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.

Workers in a surgical ICU were placed into two groups: a control group and a stress-reduction intervention group. The intervention lasted for eight weeks and included mindfulness, stretching, yoga, meditation and music. Stress markers were measured one week before and one week after the intervention to see if the approach reduced stress.

Results showed that levels of salivary [alpha]-amylase (or the activation of the fight or flight response) were decreased from the first to second assessment in the intervention group, while the control group showed no changes.

"What's stressful about the work environment is never going to change," said Maryanna Klatt, associate clinical professor in the department of family medicine at OSU Wexner. "But what we were interested in changing was the nursing personnel's reaction to those stresses. We measured salivary alpha amylase, which is a biomarker of the sympathetic nervous system activation, and that was reduced by 40 percent in the intervention group."

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