Facets of mindfulness in health professionals and patient adjustment to cancer
Sinclair, Ashleigh Karen
Systematic Review: Healthcare professionals work in highly emotive environments and are considered to be at high risk of developing burnout due to the nature of their roles. There has been increased interest in applying mindfulness-based interventions for stress reduction in healthcare professionals. Previous reviews have tended to include a heterogeneous mix of patients, healthcare students and healthcare professionals. The inherent differences in these roles limits the conclusions that can be drawn regarding the effectiveness of mindfulness-based interventions for healthcare professionals. The current review aimed to address this gap in knowledge by reviewing mindfulness-based interventions specifically for healthcare professionals. Eight studies were included in the review. It was concluded that despite some methodological weaknesses there was promising evidence of the effectiveness of mindfulness-based interventions in reducing stress and improving well-being particularly when baseline levels of stress were high. The evidence in support of reducing burnout was less conclusive. Future studies employing larger samples using active controls and longitudinal designs will provide valuable information on the long-term efficacy of these interventions. Empirical Research Study: Several studies have identified psychological adjustment as one of the most important factors correlating with psychological distress and quality of life in people with cancer. Identifying ways to promote positive adjustment to cancer is an important goal in helping to alleviate distress and improve quality of life for this client group. This can be facilitated by identifying robust predictors of distress. Previous studies have identified a number of useful predictors, such as coping styles and psychological adjustment styles. The current study aimed to explore the predictive power of two newer constructs aligned to mindfulness-based processes: self-compassion and cognitive fusion - in determining adjustment to cancer. 114 adults with various cancer diagnoses completed the Mini Mental Adjustment to Cancer Scale, Brief COPE, the Self-Compassion Scale, Cognitive Fusion Questionnaire; and two outcome measures: the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale and the Functional Analysis of Cancer Therapy – General. Hierarchical multiple regression was used to explore relationships between predictor variables: mental adjustment, coping style, self-compassion and cognitive fusion, and outcome variables: distress and quality of life. Results showed that a known predictor, emotional avoidance coping and the newer construct, cognitive fusion were significant predictors of distress over and above other known predictors. Emotional avoidance coping was the only significant predictor of quality of life over and above known predictors and the newer constructs under examination. Self-compassion did not account for any significant incremental variance in distress or quality of life after controlling for other known predictors. The results of this study indicate that interventions focused on reducing cognitive fusion and emotional avoidance are warranted and potentially beneficial in reducing distress in this population.