Mindfulness physical therapy, pain management, rehabilitation

Compassion, Mindfulness, and the Happiness of Healthcare Workers

Benzo and colleagues sought to identify whether self-compassion is meaningfully associated with happiness in health care workers.1 Four hundred healthcare workers (mean age = 45 ± 14, 65% female) at a large teaching hospital were asked to complete questionnaires assessing their levels of happiness and self-compassion, life conditions and habits. Participants completed the Happiness Scale and Self-Compassion Scale, the Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire as well as a questionnaire identifying additional variables associated with wellbeing: relationship status, the number of hours spent exercising a week, attendance at a wellness facility and engagement in a regular spiritual practice.

Self-compassion was significantly and independently associated with perceived happiness, explaining 39% of its variance after adjusting for age, marital status, gender, time spent exercising and attendance to an exercise facility. Two specific subdomains of the Self-Compassion Scale, isolation (“When I’m feeling down, I tend to feel like most other people are probably happier than I am” and “When I fail at something that’s important to me, I tend to feel alone in my failure”) and mindfulness (“When something painful happens I try to take a balanced view of the situation” and “When something upsets me I try to keep my emotions in balance”) were most predictive of health care worker happiness. These two domains accounted for 95% of the self-compassion effect on happiness.

This research suggests healthcare provider training that emphasizes community and connection as well as a balanced, non-reactive view in emotionally charged situations could be especially helpful in promoting healthcare provider happiness.

1Benzo1 RP, Kirsch JL, Nelson C. Compassion, Mindfulness and the Happiness of Health Care Workers. Explore (NY). 2017;13(3): 201–206.