Case Study 3 – Evaluation of mindfulness course to reduce NHS GP stress and burnout
Numerous studies show that increasingly, GPs are suffering from or at risk of, burnout, stress and anxiety. Many are considering leaving the profession.
Dr Neil Pillai, a Kent GP, wanted to apply for funding to explore for the first time whether a modified mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) course has potential to reduce stress and burnout among NHS GPs. The eight-week course teaches participants to focus on the present moment so they become skilled in dealing with situations as they arise.
Dr Pillai came to the RDS SE in Kent as a first-time researcher, for support with a funding application to the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP). RDS SE Research Advisers Dr Kate Hamilton-West and Dr Tracy Pellatt-Higgins worked with him to develop his application and were co-investigators. Tracy provided specialist statistical support.
Dr Pillai received £1,500 from RCGP South East Thames Faculty to undertake a feasibility study. Findings of the preliminary evaluation were promising. After the MCBT course, stress and burnout scores improved compared to baseline.
Dr Pillai said: ‘GPs reported that the course helped them manage work pressures, feel more relaxed, enjoy their work and experience greater empathy and compassion (for self, colleagues and patients). Compliance with the intervention was very high. We intend to apply for further funding to evaluate this approach in a larger sample of GPs’.
Findings of the study were published in Primary Health Care Research and Development. The team hope to undertake further research to evaluate this approach within a larger randomized controlled trial.