Transfer of Mindfulness Training to the Work Setting: A Qualitative Study in a Health Care System

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Abstract

Introduction:

Mindfulness training is now commonly offered as professional development for health care practitioners. Understanding how health care practitioners adopt mindfulness practices is limited, which poses a hurdle to the development of effective mindfulness training programs. To explore how health professionals use and perceive mindfulness practices at work, we conducted an exploratory qualitative study at a large multicomponent inner-city health system.

Methods:

All participants were self-selected health professionals who attended at least one mindfulness training. Training content was derived from the Tergar Meditation Community's nonsectarian Joy of Living program and focused on calming the mind using a flexible and broadly applicable approach. Transcribed interview data were examined using thematic analysis.

Results:

Individuals receiving mindfulness training varied substantially in their subsequent adoption and utilization of these practices. Interviewees' experiences overall suggest that the workplace presents a relatively challenging but nonetheless viable environment for being mindful. Health care workers relied on more informal practice models than on formal meditation practice routines while at work. Factors reported by some individuals to inhibit effective mindfulness practice supported mindfulness for others, and overall displayed equivocal effects.

Discussion:

Adoption and integration of mindfulness practices within the workplace are feasible yet vary significantly by practice type, situation, and the individual. Greater understanding of how individuals adopt workplace mindfulness training could improve future intervention research while clarifying optimal mindfulness training approaches.

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