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A randomized controlled trial of the effects of meditation on home care nurses’ work stress Ferrer, Rosanna Rachelle

Abstract

The increase of community home care nurses' work stress has been identified as more acutely ill patients discharged into the community create greater demand based on larger case loads with more complex case management. Surprisingly, no research to date has evaluated stress reduction interventions which claim to protect community home care nurses' from the long-term effects of work stress. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the efficacy of a stress reduction intervention using meditation to decrease home care nurses' symptoms of work stress. These symptoms were defined as anxiety, fatigue and reduced spiritual well-being. The study design was a randomized controlled trail. From a sample of convenience, 27 subjects were randomly assigned to an intervention (n=13) and wait-list control group (n=14). The intervention group attended a 5 hour meditation class once a week for 4 weeks. The wait-list group was given no specific instructions. Home care nurses' (HCN) symptoms of work stress were measured pre-intervention and 4 weeks post intervention using the Spielberger's, State and Trait Anxiety scale, the SF-36 Vitality sub-scale, and the JAREL Spiritual Well-being scale. There was a statistically significant decrease in HCN's trait- anxiety (p=0.014) and fatigue levels (p=0.016) at a 0.05 level of significance. Although, there was a decrease in state anxiety (p=0.48) and an increase in the JAREL spiritual well-being measures (p=0.11), the differences were not statistically significant. The findings suggested that meditation has the potential to shift home care nurses' appraisal of stressful situation from being a threat to being a challenge, thereby reducing symptoms of work stress, such as trait anxiety and fatigue. Implications for practice and research are discussed.

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