Does mindfulness meditation have the potential to reduce stress and burnout in NHS General Practitioners?

  • K. Hamilton-West
  • T. Pellatt-Higgins
  • N. Pillai


Background: Research indicates a crisis of low morale among UK General Practitioners, with 73% describing their workload as unmanageable, 71% suffering or at risk of burnout, 42% considering early retirement and 25% leaving the profession entirely. We aimed to examine potential benefits of Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) for reducing stress and burnout in this population. Methods: NHS GPs (N=22) completed measures of stress (Perceived Stress Scale; PSS) and burnout (Maslach Burnout Inventory; MBI) before attending an 8-week MBCT course (baseline) and then again one-month (T2) and three months (T3) after the end of the course. Paired t-tests were used to analyze the change from baseline at follow-up. Qualitative data on participants’ experiences of the course were analysed using thematic analysis. Results: All GPs attended at least six of the eight sessions. Data were obtained from 22 participants (100%) at baseline, 21 (95%) at T2 and 13 at T3. PSS scores were significantly lower at T2, compared to baseline, as were MBI Emotional Exhaustion and Depersonalisation scores. All differences were significant at p<.001 and maintained at T3. Participants reported that the course helped them to manage work pressures, feel more relaxed, enjoy their work and experience greater empathy and compassion (for self, colleagues and patients). Discussion: NHS GPs experienced lower levels of stress and burnout after attending an 8-week mindfulness course. The intervention is acceptable to GPs and has potential to be offered more widely. Further research is needed to evaluate this approach within a larger randomized controlled trial.
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