Theses Doctoral

Mindfulness Via a Smartphone Application to Decrease Burnout in Nurses

Martin, Heather

Nurses have been on the front line of the COVID-19 pandemic and experienced direct impacts over the last few years. Many encountered additional stressors of isolation from loved ones and the challenges of parenting school-age children. Additionally, due to the recent and significant departure of nurses from bedside nursing, there has been greater need for remaining nurses to precept new staff coming into the hospital. Some nurses assumed a preceptor role in addition to their direct care responsibilities.

It has been reported that combined home and work-life burdens put nurses at higher risk of burnout, resulting in poor health outcomes and increased depression, anxiety, and stress. Mindfulness meditation is an evidenced-based tool to help acknowledge surroundings and to help to lower or decrease perceived stress. A randomized controlled design with a two-group pretest-posttest was used to evaluate the impact of a mindfulness smartphone application on the perceived levels of burnout, stress, anxiety, depression, and mindfulness of nurses.

After taking a pretest, participants were randomized to either a waitlist control group or an intervention smartphone group. The waitlist group did not have any intervention during the 30 -day study period. The intervention group was asked to complete sessions via a smartphone mindfulness app for 30 days. The instruments used in this study were the Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI), Depression, Anxiety, and Stress Scale 21 questions (DASS-21), Mindfulness Attention Awareness Scale (MAAS), and the Mobile Device Proficiency Questionnaire 16 questions (MDPQ-16).

This dissertation includes three reports based on the same dataset. The first report analyzed the effects of a smartphone mindfulness application on burnout in nurse preceptors. Results of the study indicated that a smartphone application can reduce burnout in the subscales of Personal Accomplishment and Depersonalization but not in Emotional Exhaustion. The second report examined the impact of a smartphone mindfulness application on scores of depression, anxiety, and stress of nurses.

The study results indicated a significant improvement in the smartphone application group compared to the waitlist group for the variables of depression and stress. The third report evaluated the impact of the smartphone mindfulness application on the mindfulness levels of participants and the relationship between their technology proficiency to their interaction with the application. The smartphone group's mindfulness scores increased significantly compared to the waitlist group. However, mobile proficiency was not significantly related to the participants’ use of the mindfulness application.

The findings of this study indicate that the use of a smartphone application can effectively increase mindfulness when used by nurses at the bedside. The smartphone mindfulness app also showed potential benefits in reducing self-perceived levels of several aspects of burnout, depression, and stress in nurses. Hospitals could choose to embed mindfulness principles into the hospital environment's culture or provide staff opportunities to practice mindfulness through a smartphone application during the day. Such mindfulness may decrease the consequences of burnout, which include increased nurse turnover, decreased quality of care, and high costs of recruiting and training new nurses. Further research is needed to study the long-term impact of using the smartphone application and the time required daily to show results


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Health and Behavior Studies
Thesis Advisors
O'Connell, Kathleen Ann
Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University
Published Here
May 24, 2023