Feasibility study protocol to examine the role of mantra meditation at reducing psychological distress in emergency department staff

Padraic J. Dunne, Caoimhe O'Leary, Lucia Prihodova, Rachel Breen, Cathal Walsh, Laurence Freeman, Aine Carroll, Geraldine McMahon, Barry White


Background: Work in a healthcare setting can affect the psychological wellbeing of healthcare professionals (HCPs). Emotional exhaustion among HCPs can have a significant negative impact on the quality of healthcare provided to patients in terms of increased medical errors and decreased patient satisfaction. There is a need for an effective stress-reducing intervention, such as mantra meditation. This feasibility study will examine the suitability of random controlled trial (RCT) methodology to assess the efficacy of mantra meditation at reducing emotional exhaustion among emergency department (ED) staff.

Methods: This is a mixed methods, stratified feasibility study with intent-to-treat protocol, using two study arms (passive control and intervention), the purpose of which is to examine (1) recruitment, retention, and adherence; (2) outcome measures (psychological wellbeing and stress-related biological parameters such as blood pressure, heart rate variability and salivary cortisol); and (3) data management, control, and dissemination prior to conducting a full RCT.

Results Eligible ED staff allocated to the intervention group (n = 30) will be taught mantra meditation and discuss prescribed texts (4 x 4 hour session over 6 weeks), as well as engage in 20 minutes of twice-daily mantra meditation practice. Participants in the passive control group (n = 30) will work as usual. Data will be collected pre (T1), post (week 11; T2) and at follow-up (week 19; T3).  

Conclusions: This study will pave the way for a larger RCT that will investigate mantra meditation as a definitive intervention to reduce emotional exhaustion among ED staff.


Health care, Psychological, Stress, Emotional exhaustion, Meditation

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