QEII Hospital Emergency Nurse Practitioner and PhD Candidate, Hui (Grace) Xu, is researching a user-friendly smartphone app to manage stress and reduce burnout in hospital emergency departments (ED).
Grace will investigate the effectiveness of the meditation-based app to help ED workers improve their mental, emotional and physical wellbeing.
“Working in a hospital emergency department can be very demanding,” said Ms Xu.
“ED staff are frequently exposed to trauma, and the death of a patient, particularly a child, can be extremely stressful.
“Many of us do shift work, which can be hard on our minds and bodies, and our family and social lives.
“There can be a lot of pressure, not just for doctors, nurses and allied health professionals, but also for support staff.
“Anyone who works in an ED can be susceptible to stress.”
Ms Xu said research has shown meditation to be effective in lowering stress and improving mindfulness because it alters your brain structure, enabling you to think clearly.
“However, it is difficult for ED staff to make time at work or in their personal time to do these sorts of activities, especially face-to-face meditation,” she said.
“That is why the use of an app is significant – if a convenient, mobile and easy-to-use tool proves beneficial in improving the overall wellbeing of ED staff, then it can be developed as a stress management strategy.”
The research will include 148 ED staff across Logan and Redland hospitals.
Half of the participants will use the same app to meditate for 10 minutes each day for four weeks, with the other half forming the control group.
“It’s important that someone is caring for the carers,” she said.
“If we can improve the wellbeing of ED staff, that will translate to better care, fewer errors and, most importantly, better patient outcomes.”