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Mindful Life-Well at Work

Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for Life (MBCT-L) v. Stress-Reduction Psychoeducation (SRP) for the improvement of mental wellbeing in healthcare, social care and teaching professionals

Why the research is needed

Healthcare and other public care staff are considered to be at risk of developing poor mental health due to the challenging nature of their job. High levels of stress and other mental health problems in these groups have been linked with poor outcomes for the person themselves and the wider organisation as well as the quality of care provided.

What is already known about the subject

Recognising this problem, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has recommended Mindfulness-based and Stress Reduction Psychoeducation (SRP) interventions for reducing stress and improving staff wellbeing. SRP uses relaxation techniques to combat the negative consequences of stress.  Mindfulness-based approaches combine mindfulness with relaxation, as well as cognitive-behavioural therapy elements in the version of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy- for Life (MBCT-L). MBCT-L develops one’s ability to view stress in a positive as well as negative light, promoting a more positive long-term outlook to life. While SRP is being offered as standard care to staff in all regions in England, MBCT-L is a newer approach widely implemented across health and other public care organisations in East Midlands, and in a limited number of other regions across the UK.

Who we will be working with

We have teamed up with academics, clinicians and other key stakeholders with long-standing expertise in mental health and/or the provision of such interventions.

How patients and the public are involved

Two PPI groups (on MBCT-L and SRP) have been formed who will meet/be consulted to offer their views or feedback at all stages, from study design and implementation to dissemination of findings.

What we will do

We will run a trial to assess whether MBCT-L is superior to SRP in terms of effectiveness, given that the two interventions have not been previously compared. We will recruit 208 staff working in healthcare, social care and teaching sectors through public care sites over three geographical regions (East Midlands; South and North of England). Participants will be randomly allocated at each site to either an online 9-week MBCT-L or a standard usual care online 4-week SRP programme; recruited in 26 groups, 13 in each intervention. The trial will mainly assess the superiority outcome of MBCT-L v. Stress-Reduction Psychoeducation (SRP) in change on staff stress levels from baseline at 20 weeks post randomisation. A subsample of 30 participants will also be interviewed at 20 weeks to acquire in-depth data on perceived impacts as well as barriers and drivers to intervention uptake. We will also gather further participant characteristics and intervention data (e.g., attendance, engagement, etc.) as well as health economics data for a future data analysis on cost effectiveness.

What the benefits will be

We anticipate immediate benefits to staff working in these public care sectors who will receive help in managing their stress and overall mental health; and wider benefits to the organisations that provide staff wellbeing interventions so they make their service provision more efficient.

When the findings will be available

The results will be available from June 2024.

How we are planning for implementation

The trial findings will be communicated to lay, scientific, clinical and professional audiences including commissioners, medical directors and the NHS confederation, in the form of scientific papers, reports, presentations and social media.


Dr Elena Nixon, University of Nottingham,