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A clinical trial looks at treating work burnout with mindfulness-based techniques


A study published in BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine has determined that traditional yoga and different kinds of mindfulness-based therapies can help improve the mental health and quality of life of employees taking sick leaves due to work burnout. The authors shared that the clinical trial can help them determine if trying various techniques can have positive effects on the mental health of employees who are absent because of work-related burnout.

  • For the study, the researchers wanted to confirm if cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT), or traditional yoga (TY) can help increase the health-related quality of life (HRQoL) of patients who are on sick leave due to work burnout.
  • For the randomized and blinded controlled trial, 94 primary health care patients were randomized to CBT, MBCT, or TY (active control). The trial took place between September 2007 and November 2009.
  • The patients who took part in the clinical trial resided in the Stockholm metropolitan area in Sweden. They were aged 18 to 65 years old, and the participants were on 50 percent to 100 percent sick leave prescribed by their physicians.
  • The patients received group treatment for 20 weeks (three hours weekly), and they were given homework for four hours per week.
  • HRQoL was determined using the Swedish Health-Related Quality of Life Survey (SWED-QUAL) questionnaire. The questionnaire included 67 items grouped into 13 subscales that had a separate index and scores from 0 (worse) to 100 (best). The SWED-QUAL gauged various aspects “of physical and emotional well-being, cognitive function, sleep, general health and social and sexual functioning.”
  • The findings from the clinical trial included data from 26 patients in TY (21 women) and 27 patients who took part in both the MBCT (24 women) and the CBT (25 women). At least 10 subscales in TY and seven subscales in both MBCT and CBT showed improvements, with a significance level less than 0.05 for some of the main domains that are influenced when a person experiences burnout such as cognitive function, emotional well-being, physical well-being, and sleep.

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The results from the clinical trial showed that a 20-week group treatment with CBT, MBCT, or YT had equal effects on HRQoL, especially concerning the main domains linked to burnout. The researchers concluded that CBT, MBCT, and TY could be used as both treatment and prevention because it can positively affect the HRQoL of employees on sick leave due to burnout and that it can significantly minimize the risk of future morbidity.

Find the full text of study at this link.

You can read more articles about research on mindfulness-based techniques and mental health at Mind.news.

Journal reference: 

Grensman A, Acharya BD, Wändell P, Nilsson GH, Falkenberg T, Sundin Ö, Werner S. EFFECT OF TRADITIONAL YOGA, MINDFULNESS-BASED COGNITIVE THERAPY, AND COGNITIVE BEHAVIORAL THERAPY, ON HEALTH-RELATED QUALITY OF LIFE: A RANDOMIZED CONTROLLED TRIAL ON PATIENTS ON SICK LEAVE BECAUSE OF BURNOUT. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2018;18(80). DOI: 10.1186/s12906-018-2141-9



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