Frontline health care workers are exposed to extreme acute stress during this COVID-19 pandemic. The first data collected in China showed that this might lead to substantial burden of psychopathology in these health care workers, which might represent both new (incident) and deteriorating (prevalent) cases. This is in line with findings from previous (health care) crises.
In this study, we examine whether a semi-acute mindfulness based stress reduction (MBSR) intervention, specifically tailored to fit the needs of the health care workers and crisis situation, in addition to support as usual (SAU) can prevent incident/prevalent psychopathology. Our hypothesis is that it can diminish depression, anxiety, stress, post-traumatic stress symptoms, insomnia and substance abuse and improve post-traumatic growth and positive mental health.
A randomized, controlled trial with a SAU + daily self-help mindfulness exercises via a YouTube-channel control group and an interactive MBSR + SAU intervention group.
The population consists of 220 health care workers (e.g. nurses, physicians and others) currently (or recently) allocated to work on COVID-19 treatment departments, recruited from different hospitals, or working in the acute care for COVID-19 patients in primary care or nursing homes. Exclusion criteria will be insufficient ability to speak Dutch and inability to access the interactive videostream.
The intervention is an interactive adapted online MBSR program. The training consists of eight 1.5 hour sessions twice per week during 4 weeks. The sessions will be held via interactive videostreaming. Participants in the control condition will have the possibility to use a self-help daily mindfulness exercise (30 min) on a YouTube channel (DMYT). Both will be offered on top of the other interventions already available in the hospital/workplace (e.g. buddy-, team- and peer support system, shopping-/dinnerservice, etc.).
Primary outcome will be changes from baseline to 4 and 7-months follow-up on depression, anxiety and somatoform symptoms (PHQ-SADS). Secondary measures are post-traumatic stress symptoms, insomnia, substance abuse, post-traumatic growth and positive mental health. As possible mediators we will measure perseverative thinking, mindfulness skills and self-compassion. At 7 months follow-up, the costs arising from any psychosocial problems of the participants will also be measured.