The Effect of Mantram Repetition on Burnout and Stress Among VA Staff

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Abstract

In this study, the authors determined the effect of a structured Internet-delivered Mantram Repetition Program (MRP) on burnout and stress of conscience (SOC), stress related to ambiguity from ethical or moral conflicts among health care workers (HCWs) within the Veteran Affairs (VA) Healthcare System. A secondary purpose was to determine whether practicing meditation prior to the study combined with MRP affected burnout or SOC. The MRP teaches the mindful practices of repeating a mantram, slowing down, and one-pointed attention for managing stress. Thirty-nine HCW volunteers who provided direct patient care completed the Internet-delivered MRP. The outcomes of burnout (i.e., exhaustion, cynicism, and professional efficacy) and SOC (i.e., frequency of stressful events and troubled conscience about those events) were measured at baseline (T1), postintervention (T2), and 3-months postintervention (T3). Repeated measures ANOVA indicated that exhaustion significantly (p < .05) declined between T1 and T3; professional efficacy and cynicism did not change during the study. The same statistical model also indicated the frequency of stressful events significantly declined between T1 and T2 and troubled conscience declined between T1 and T3. Secondary analysis demonstrated that individuals who did not practice meditation at baseline (n = 16, 41%) significantly decreased exhaustion, frequency of stressful events, and troubled conscience between T1 and T3, and improved professional efficacy between T1 and T2. Individuals who practiced meditation at baseline (n = 23, 59%) did not demonstrate significant change on any study outcomes. An MRP intervention may reduce burnout and SOC in those individuals who are naïve to practicing meditation.

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