Monday, May 6, 2013

A Randomized, Controlled Trial of Meditation for Work Stress, Anxiety and Depressed Mood in Full-Time Workers


Summary: 

Manocha et. al (2011) conducted an 8 week 3 arm randomized controlled trial which compared mental silence yoga called "sahaja yoga", relaxation oriented meditation, and a no treatment control group.  The purpose of the study was to determine if meditation practices have the ability to reduce stress in the workplace.  Participants had to be full time employees who worked more than 30 hours a week.  For both test groups participants had to conduct meditation sessions twice weekly and in one hour sessions.  Moreover, the participants had to practice twice daily for 10-20 minutes each time (Manocha et. al, 2011).  At each session participants were taught by health professionals in the mental silence meditation(MSM) group and the relaxation control group (RC).  The non-treatment group was comprised of subjects who were told that they were on a waiting list to be put into one of the two meditation groups at a later date.   Moreover, both intervention groups were conducted at the same institutional location, in similar rooms, same time of day, similar support materials, and equal duration of time (Manocha et. al, 2011).  Lastly, each participants were measured pre-test with the Psychological Strain Questionnaire, which is an accepted measure of work stress (Manocha et. al, 2011).

The results of the study found that meditation for both intervention groups did not show any adverse effects for participants in the study.  Most significantly, it was noticed that mental silence form of meditation performed significantly better than relaxation control meditation.  Mental silence meditation proved more significantly to reduce stress, anxiety, and depression (Manocha et. al, 2011).  Manchoa et.al (2011) also concluded that meditation that strongly involves thought reduction and mental silence may be more of efficient relaxation technique to improve health and reduce stress in the workplace.

Critique: 

I found this study interesting that it found that mental silence meditation was able to improve both worker health and reduce stress in the workplace. The authors acknowledge that implementing a mental silence meditation would be low-cost to institute in a workplace and fairly easy to teach participants to learn proper techniques of mental silence meditation.  Through reading about mental silence mediation I agree that it would prove beneficial to incorporate into the workplace, but the authors confirming that their study proves that mental silence mediation is the best reduction of stress in the workplace is a little stretched.  The authors never conducted a follow up experiment to see if the participants continued to do the mental silence meditation after the experiment was over.  Moreover, the authors never assessed if the benefits that the meditation provided was maintained or participants shortly went back to how the participants originally were. I think that instead of making the participants conduct their meditation exercises after work hours, I would think that conducting the meditation during the work day would prove more beneficial.

Source:

Manocha, R., Black, D., Sarris, J., & Stough, C. (2011). A randomized, controlled trial of meditation for work stress, anxiety, and depressed mood in full-time workers. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 1-8. Retrieved from http://www.hindawi.com/journals/ecam/2011/960583/abs/.


3 comments:

  1. I am not surprised that the research showed a correlation between stress relief and meditation. I do not want to discredit the benefits of stress relief, particularly for people in high stress positions, however, people inherently address stress and stressful positions differently, so I wonder how important meditation's effect on stress is. This is especially true when considering making it mandatory in the workplace, which I imagine would be met with a lot of resistance if it's only claim was to manage stress, as opposed to improving performance. Theoretically these two things are interrelated, but this study does not seem to address that.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I think individuals that use meditation to manage stress may find it to be helpful for them. Others may not find it useful. Therefore, implementing it in the workplace may only be beneficial to a small number of individuals. Additionally, by using "similar" support materials for each group, it seems like each group may be susceptible to different conditions. Both intervention groups should have been placed under the same conditions.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I agree that the authors claim that mental silence meditation is the best reducer of stress in the workplace in a stretch. I think the most important thing to remember about meditation and other similar practices is that it will only work for those who are open to it. I also agree with your statement that the meditation should have taken place during the work hours because that is generally when the stress needs to be alleviated.

    ReplyDelete