A new study suggests that a ‘blended’ eight-week mindfulness programme that adds Team Mindfulness Training (TMT) to a shortened version of the mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) course for individual mindfulness is just as effective as the standard MBSR course alone. It may even offer further benefit by increasing collective stress management skills.
Led by Dr Jutta Tobias Mortlock, Co-director of the Centre for Excellence in Mindfulness Research (CEMR) at City, University of London, in collaboration with Dr Alison Carter, Principal Research Fellow at the Institute of Employment Studies (IES), the study bridges the gap between the well-established body of research supporting the benefits of individual mindfulness practice, epitomised by the eight-week MBSR course, and the burgeoning science on team and collective mindfulness. MBSR has been shown to reduce stress, anxiety, depression, and pain. Collective mindfulness is strongly linked to organisational resilience.
The study was conducted in a high-stress military context: military officers in training in the British Army and in the Royal Navy, and was funded by the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL). A mixed method approach was used that consisted of two research phases.
Twenty-three junior officers-to-be from the British Army participated in a pre-pilot study which trialled the newly designed Team Mindfulness Training (TMT) intervention: half the time was dedicated to training participants in individual stress management skills using the MBSR curriculum, with the remainder focusing on training collective stress management skills using the principles of collective mindfulness.
A larger pilot study, in which 105 Royal Navy officer cadets took part, then compared the TMT intervention against the standard eight-week MBSR course. The effect of participating in either intervention group was measured by assessing individual resilience, collective mindfulness, and individual performance. While the two former measures were self-reported, the last was assessed using an objective computer-test of working memory, as a proxy for performance at work. All measures were taken at three time points: directly before, directly after and two months after the intervention. Participants also took part in semi-structured interviews.
The study found that participating in both intervention groups led to significantly increased individual resilience and working memory, with no significant difference between the two groups.
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