Study: Stress management beneficial for health care workers

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Study: Stress management beneficial for health care workers

Tue, 09/05/2017 - 3:18am -- tim

Vermont Business Magazine A research study conducted at the University of Vermont Medical Center, College of Nursing Health Sciences, and Larner College of Medicine has found that the Benson Henry Institute’s (BHI) evidence-based Stress Management and Resiliency Training (SMART) is a valuable model to use with health professionals to enhance their well-being, increase daily mindful awareness and practice, and reduce perceptions of stress and job burnout. 

As part of the study, 20 health care leaders and professionals from the UVM medical community participated in a two-hour-per-week, eight-week SMART program financed through a special wellness fund from BlueCross BlueShield of Vermont with researchers from BHI leading the sessions. The study was spearheaded by Jane Nathan, Ph.D, a BHI-trained SMART practitioner, clinical assistant professor of family medicine at UVM Larner College of Medicine, and research director of the Stern Center for Language and Learning, in collaboration with Evelyn Sikorski, CSW, CEAP, manager of Employee Wellness at the UVM Medical Center, and Cara Feldman Hunt, M.A., program manager of UVM Integrative Health. 

The SMART program focuses on elicitation of the relaxation response, stress awareness and coping exercises, promotion of adaptive strategies, elaborations on neuroscience and stress, scientific rationale for resilience-based lifestyle behaviors, and motivational strategies for successful behavioral change. At the conclusion of the study, significant increases were found in the 20 participants’ use of daily mindful awareness, meditation, and mindful practice with significant decreases in perceived stress. All participants endorsed the training as excellent and highly relevant for both patients and health care professionals at all levels. A two-month follow-up confirmed the program’s longevity with 86 percent of the participants experiencing successful integration of extended practice into their personal and professional lives and observing positive impacts on their sense of overall stress and job burnout. 

This research will be disseminated nationally and has been selected as one of just 12 oral presentations to be delivered at the 2017 International Conference to Promote Resilience, Empathy and Well-Being in Health Care Professions on October 22-25, 2017 in Washington, D.C. Conference attendees will include educators, researchers, practitioners, faculty development leaders and academic policy makers who are seeking information on best practices and strategies to promote resilience, empathy, and well-being for all types of health professionals. The conference is being co-hosted by the Center for Innovation and Leadership in Education at Georgetown University Medical Center and MedStar Health. 

Nathan, Sikorski, and Feldman Hunt continue to work together to build a sustainable, unified program of stress management and resiliency for the UVM community and were recently awarded a UVM Foundation Grant to provide SMART to patients with chronic conditions. Nathan was also recently awarded a 2017 Frymoyer Scholarship for a project she is conducting with colleagues Laura McCray, M.D., and Nathalie Feldman, M.D., to provide an abbreviated version of SMART to medical residents in the departments of Family Medicine and Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences to help mitigate burnout and enhance resilience. For more information on either of these two studies, contact

Source: Stern Center