A Pilot Randomized Controlled Trial with Informant Reports

Larissa Bartlett Pamela Lovel Petr Otahal  Kristy Sanderson

Springer Science+Business Media New York 2016


Mindfulness training appears to reduce stress and distress, but little is known about whether it results in changes that can be observed by colleagues, family, or friends or itappropriateness as a workplace stress management intervention for a large and distributed public sector workforce. This study evaluated a pilot 5-week Mindfulness at Work Program (MaWP) for acceptability, feasibility, and efficacy in relation to stress and related mental health and productivity problems for public sector employees. A parallel group randomized controlled trial comp ared the MaWP intervention (n = 20) with an information-only control (n = 100). Exploratory qualitative and quantitative methods were used to assess changeobserved by informants (n = 63). Results suggest a high degree of acceptability, although locatioand inflexible work schedules presented feasibility obstacles. Compared with thcontrol, the primary outcome of mindfulness improved for MaWP participants (d = 0.57 , p < 0 .00 1), as did perceived stress (d = 0.97, p < 0.001), psychological distress (d = 0.61p < 0.001)health-related quality of life (d = 0.51, p = 0.002), and social functioning (d = 0.08, p = 0.019). All secondary outcomes were at least partly mediated by changes in mindfulness. The intervention thus appears to have potential merit as a workplace intervention for public sector employees across a range of outcomes. Obtaining informant observations wafeasible and whil e qu alit ative an alys es indicated positive changes that supported self-reported outcomes, quantitative analyses returned ambiguous results. A seven-item scaladaptefrom a popular self-report mindfulness scale for usby informants showed promise, but further work is needed to establish validityreliability, and scalability of this method of assessing observable changes following mindfulness training.