Year 2021
October 2021


Abstract Title
Protecting Healthcare Workers' Mental Health: A Waitlist Randomized Controlled Trial of a novel Mindful Compassion Art-based Therapy (MCAT) for Reducing Burnout and Builidng Resilience



Nanyang Technological University1, HCA Hospice Care2 

Background & Hypothesis

Healthcare workers (HCWs), especially those immersed in palliative end-of-life care, are prone to burnout, moral distress, and empathy fatigue. This study examines the efficacy of a novel, locally-developed, multimodal, group-based Mindful-Compassion Art-based Therapy (MCAT) that integrates reflective self-awareness with creative emotional expression for protecting HCWs’ mental health.


An open label waitlist Randomized Controlled Trial (RCT) comprising an immediate-treatment group and a waitlist-control group was conducted. 56 HCWs were recruited from the largest homecare hospice in Singapore, and randomized to the immediate-intervention condition of a standardized 6-week 18-hours MCAT program (n=29), or the waitlist-control (n=27) condition. Self-administered outcome measures on burnout, resilience, emotional regulation, and quality of life were collected at baseline, post-intervention/second-baseline, and 6-weeks follow-up.


Results from mixed ANOVAs reveal significant interaction effects including reduction in mental exhaustion, improvements in emotional regulation, resilience and quality of life among immediate-treatment participants compared to waitlist-control across time – with medium to large effect sizes [η2 = 0.52-.170]. Results from one-way ANOVAs reveal treatment gains were maintained at 6-weeks follow-up for immediate-treatment participants, with new benefits identified including increased ability to observe and describe one’s inner experiences with non-judgment, elevated self-compassion, mindful awareness, and a deepened sense of interconnectedness to others – with large effect sizes [η2 = .128-.278].

Discussion & Conclusion

RCT findings support MCAT as an effective and clinically robust psycho-social-spiritual intervention for reducing burnout, building resilience, and protecting mental health among HCWs. The clinical model and applicability of MCAT in larger and more diverse caregiving contexts such as family dementia care are discussed.