Background: During the COVID-19 pandemic, health professionals were pushed to the front line of a global health crisis unprepared, resource constrained, and with heightened uncertainty and distress levels. The impact of an online mindfulness-based intervention (MBI) for health care professionals amid a pandemic has not been previously documented. This study aimed to investigate the feasibility and effectiveness of a brief online MBI on stress, burnout and mindful awareness for health professionals training and working during the COVID-19 crisis.
Methods: A mixed methods, phenomenological, participatory evaluation framework was adopted for this study. A four-week online training programme was adapted and delivered to health professionals via the Zoom platform. Non-probability snowball sampling was used to recruit participants. The quantitative data was analysed using descriptive analysis via Stata 15.1 statistical software, and the participants’ qualitative experiences were interpreted using interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA).
Results: Forty-seven participants took part in this study. The study found a statistically significant (p < 0.05) reduction in stress levels and emotional exhaustion as well as an increase in mindful awareness and feelings of personal accomplishment between the pre-and post-intervention assessments of the MBI. The participants’ shared experiences were analysed in two parts. The pre-intervention analysis presented with central themes of loss of control and a sense of powerlessness due to COVID-19. The post-intervention analysis comprised themes of a sense of acquired control and empowerment through increased mindfulness.
Conclusions: The study found that a brief online MBI can be associated with increased awareness and present-moment focus as well as reduced levels of stress and burnout. The MBI had a positive impact on the health care professionals’ sense of control and empowerment, and increased their perceived sense of competence and accomplishment, both personally and professionally, during the global crisis.