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Effectiveness and feasibility of a mindful leadership course for medical specialists: a pilot study

  • Kersemaekers, Wendy M.1
  • Vreeling, Kiki1
  • Verweij, Hanne1
  • van der Drift, Miep2
  • Cillessen, Linda1, 3
  • van Dierendonck, Dirk4
  • Speckens, Anne E. M.1, 3
  • 1 Radboudumc, Nijmegen, 6500 HB, The Netherlands , Nijmegen (Netherlands)
  • 2 Radboudumc, Nijmegen, The Netherlands , Nijmegen (Netherlands)
  • 3 Radboud University, Nijmegen, The Netherlands , Nijmegen (Netherlands)
  • 4 Erasmus University, Rotterdam, The Netherlands , Rotterdam (Netherlands)
Published Article
BMC Medical Education
Springer (Biomed Central Ltd.)
Publication Date
Feb 04, 2020
DOI: 10.1186/s12909-020-1948-5
Springer Nature


BackgroundMedical specialists experience high levels of stress. This has an impact on their well-being, but also on quality of their leadership. In the current mixed method study, the feasibility and effectiveness of a course Mindful Leadership on burnout, well-being and leadership skills of medical specialists were evaluated.MethodsThis is a non-randomized controlled pre-post evaluation using self-report questionnaires administered at 3 months before (control period), start and end of the training (intervention period). Burn-out symptoms, well-being and leadership skills were assessed with self-report questionnaires. Semi-structured interviews were used to qualitatively evaluate barriers and facilitators for completion of the course.ResultsFrom September 2014 to June 2016, 52 medical specialists participated in the study. Of these, 48 (92%) completed the course. Compared to the control period, the intervention period resulted in greater reductions of depersonalization (mean difference = − 1.2, p = 0.06), worry (mean difference = − 4.3, p = 0.04) and negative work-home interference (mean difference = − 0.2, p = 0.03), and greater improvements of mindfulness (mean difference = 0.5, p = 0.04), life satisfaction (mean difference = 0.4, p = 0.01) and self-reported ethical leadership (mean difference = 0.1, p = 0.02). Effect sizes were generally small to medium (0.3 to 0.6) and large for life satisfaction (0.8). Appreciation of course elements was a major facilitator and the difficulty of finding time a major barrier for participating.ConclusionsA ‘Mindful Leadership’ course was feasible and not only effective in reducing burnout symptoms and improving well-being, but also appeared to have potential for improving leadership skills. Mindful leadership courses could be a valuable part of ongoing professional development programs for medical specialists.

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