Mindfulness in Hospice Workers

Feasibility of a Brief Mindfulness Intervention on Hospice Care Worker Safety and Well-being 

Lorann Stallones, Ph.D. and Morgan Valley, MS, Colorado State University 

Background. Occupational injuries represent a significant public health problem, especially among health care workers, who face a high non-fatal occupational injury rate. Within this sector, hospice care workers, in particular, are exposed to hazards associated with in-home care in uncontrollable environments as well as the occupational stressors of caring for terminally ill patients and their families. The proposed pilot project aims to test the feasibility of a brief mindfulness intervention to improve safety performance and well-being among hospice workers. Mindfulness training has effectively improved well-being and decreased stress among health care workers (Irving, Dobkin &Park, 2009), and we have just begun to test its effect on healthcare worker safety. 

Methods: Hospice care workers from a hospice care organization based in Colorado will be recruited to participate in the study. The study will use a single-group pre-post design. The brief mindfulness intervention will consist of three intensive sessions during the participants' personal time over the course of one weekend followed by two at-work sessions including group discussion, gentle yoga, and meditation focusing on breathing. The program will train hospice care workers to incorporate mindfulness into their daily lives and workplace interactions with patients and colleagues. 

Implications: The study results will provide preliminary data required to design and conduct a large scale randomized controlled trial of intervention efficacy to further test the impact that brief mindfulness interventions can have on hospice worker stress, safety and well-being. The proposed pilot project aligns with the Total Worker Health approach to identify interventions that are practical and sustainable and address psychosocial factor associated with hospice care work while promoting overall worker well-being.