Colorado PROFILES, The Colorado Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute (CCTSI)
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A Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) Resiliency Program for Critical Care Nurses

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Burnout Syndrome (BOS) is a work related mental health condition defined by three dimensions: emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and reduced personal accomplishment. As mounting expectations and inherent stresses have increased in the workplace, BOS is reaching epidemic proportions in the healthcare profession. Being a critical care nurse is a challenging and sometimes overwhelming profession due to high patient mortality and morbidity, and daily confrontations with ethical dilemmas. Our multidisciplinary research team that combines expertise in critical care medicine, nursing, psychiatry, and psychology made the seminal observation that intensive care unit (ICU) nurses have significantly higher rates of symptoms of anxiety and depression, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and BOS. These disorders initiate a negative cycle resulting in an unacceptably high ICU nursing turnover rate of at least 17-20% per year. ICU nursing turnover is expensive costing in excess of $65,000 for each newly hired critical care nurse. ICU nursing turnover also diminishes nursing productivity, staff morale, and patient quality of care. Presently, there are no interventions to reduce BOS in ICU nurses. Because many of the stresses on ICU nurses are inherent to caring for critically ill patients, our multidisciplinary group has focused on enhancing the ability of ICU nurses to adapt to their work environment. Resiliency is a multidimensional psychological characteristic that enables one to thrive in the face of adversity and bounce back from hardships and trauma. Importantly, resiliency can be learned. Developed over 10 years ago, Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) synergistically combines mindfulness training and cognitive behavioral therapy and can increase resiliency. We hypothesize that a MBCT based resiliency program will build resiliency, reduce BOS, and ultimately diminish the high rate of ICU nursing turnover. In this R34 application, we propose three aims: Aim #1: To adapt and optimize a MBCT resiliency program specifically for ICU nurses. For this aim, we will engage multiple stakeholder groups to assist the protocol adaptation. Aim # 2: To conduct a pilot clinical trial to determine acceptability of the MBCT resiliency program and the control intervention. In this aim, we will also identify the most feasible randomization level to minimize contamination between the control and intervention groups. Aim #3: By performed exit interviews with ICU nurses, we will determine the attributable contribution of BOS to the turnover rate for ICU nurses. Collectively, this proposal will pave the way for a properly designed large multi-center trial of a MBCT resiliency program (MBCT-ICU) to determine its ability to decrease BOS symptoms; and allow nurses to more effectively care for patients in the challenging ICU environment.
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