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University launches study into use of meditation to reduce stress levels of trainee nurses

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University of Stirling researchers have secured funding to investigate the effectiveness of training student nurses in mindfulness to reduce stress levels.

The study, which begins next month, will involve student nurses undergoing a stress test and then carrying out four weeks of mindfulness training. The participants will then undergo another stress test to find out if the mindfulness has helped reduce stress levels and increased their ability to cope with stress.

The student nurses will have guided meditation sessions and keep a journal about their own practice sessions at home as part of the research.

Mindfulness, or meditation, is a technique which can be learned and helps individuals to relax and cope better with stressful situations.

PhD Research Student Jenny Jones and Research Fellow Mariyana Schoultz, based at the Highland Campus in Inverness, are carrying out the study with Professor Stephen Leslie, a cardiologist consultant at Raigmore Hospital and Professor Angus Watson.

Researcher Jenny Jones said: “Hospitals can be a very stressful environment to work in. In my nursing training there was no mention of how to cope with stress but this is something that nurses face on a daily basis.  Student nurses are not prepared for the very emotional and sometimes traumatic events they may witness at work, or equipped with the tools to cope and carry on with their job effectively.  This study hopes to change that.

“We want to find out if mindfulness will impact on how nursing students cope with stress. If the results are positive, we want it to be introduced as part of nursing training. The ultimate hope is that this will make the nurses of the future more resilient to work related stress.”

Nurses experience high levels of work related stress and are at risk of stress related illness. At any one time up to four per cent of trained nurses and up to six per cent of health care assistants are off work with stress or stress-related illness.

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