The Implementation and Use of Mindfulness to Reduce Compassion Fatigue and Attrition Rates with Faculty/Staff in an Urban School

Tuesday, 10 November 2015: 8:30 AM

MaryKay Maley, DNP, MSN, BSN, APN, FNP-C, RN-BC
School of Nursing and Health Professions, Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA, USA

Urban cities in America are frequently cited for their perennial rates of poverty, violence, and crime.  Children growing up in these cities are often plagued with emotional scars from witnessing crimes, being abused, and living in poverty.  Providing a learning environment that is safe and nurturing for these children is an overall educational goal.  However, faculty and staff of these urban schools, in trying to meet this goal, are experiencing a stress-like phenomenon known as compassion fatigue.  Compassion fatigue is a serious entity, related to over-caring. Compassion fatigue has been linked to numerous psychological and physical health issues such as anxiety, depression, gastrointestinal disturbances, acid reflux disease, as well as, addicted behaviors.  In addition, it has been associated with higher job attrition.  To combat compassion fatigue, an intervention known as mindfulness and mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) can be introduced.  Mindfulness is an old Buddhist intervention turned new, thru the works of Jon Kabat-Zinn Ph.D.  Mindfulness teaches the mind to develop an awareness and appreciation of what is occurring in the here and now.  It orients one to current feelings, allowing one to respond rather than react.  Mindfulness is practiced formally through meditation, as well as, other activities such as yoga, body scanning, and breathing; informally through continuous acknowledgement of moment-to-moment experiences. Today, mindfulness is being utilized as a safe, effective intervention in a variety of situations, such as chronic pain, fibromyalgia, stress, and cancer, in addition to, improving overall mental well-being.  However, mindfulness as a nursing intervention is just beginning to evolve.  It is hoped that this project, not only benefited, the population intended but will act as an introduction to the concept of mindfulness for the discipline of nursing.

Purpose: The purpose of this translational research project was to look at the feasibility of implementing mindfulness, as an evidence-based therapeutic intervention, to help reduce compassion fatigue and to improve faculty and staff attrition rates.  Method: Implementation of the mindfulness intervention included an educational didactic workshop, basic exercises in mindfulness, a take-home manual, and the development of a mindfulness web-portal to promote sustainability of the project.  Outcomes were measured using Stamm’s ProQOL-V Scale, in addition, to a descriptive analysis of demographics and a post-program satisfaction survey.  Findings: Scores obtained from the ProQOL-V scale confirmed the presence of compassion fatigue and burnout prior to intervention.  Post-testing showed program satisfaction with a high interest in implementing mindfulness activities.  Self-reported improvements were noted in mood/emotion (88%) following the workshop.  ProQOL-V Scale was repeated in 6 months with only a 37% return rate.  These scores, however, showed no indication of burnout or compassion fatigue.  Faculty and staff attrition rate declined from 24% (2013) to 11% (2014).  Conclusion: It appears that Mindfulness training is a feasible intervention to implement with individuals experiencing the effects of stress and compassion fatigue.  More research is needed to extend these preliminary findings into the realm of nursing both clinically and academically.