Mindfulness app decreases anxiety and burnout in physicians


  • Heather Mason
  • Univadis Medical News
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Significant correlations between anxiety and burnout exist. However, app-based mindfulness training can significantly reduce anxiety, cynicism, and emotional exhaustion, according to a pilot study published in JMIR Mhealth and Uhealth.

Physicians report significantly increased symptoms of burnout compared to the general population, although little is known about its relationship to anxiety. Symptoms include exhaustion, irritability, inability to concentrate, cynicism, and often sleep disturbances, anxiety, and depression.

Mindfulness, defined as the awareness that arises when paying attention in the present moment, on purpose and nonjudgmentally, is gaining evidence and popularity as a potential treatment for anxiety.

Physicians (N=1,100) were invited to a 30-day app-based mindfulness training programme. The app taught individuals to understand how anxious worry develops and perpetuates through reinforcement learning, how to recognise it, and how to bring mindfulness into moments of high stress. The experimental education included videos and animations, for 10 minutes per day.

Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD-7) scores decreased by 48 per cent post treatment, and by 57 per cent at three-month follow-up. A 50 per cent decrease in cynicism post-treatment and at 3-months follow-up, and a 20 per cent reduction in emotional exhaustion at both time points were reported.