police officers riding horses on busy street; mindfulness interventions are especially important in male-oriented jobs

Mindfulness interventions work…. But how about for those in male-oriented jobs?

By Madison Hanscom, PhD

Mindfulness-based interventions have been shown to be a helpful workplace tool for many individuals. They are associated with great outcomes like reductions in stress and negative affectivity. But there are still a few interesting questions remaining…

• Do these interventions only work for people in certain occupations (e.g., education and health)?
• Do these interventions fail for people in certain social contexts (e.g., when they are surrounded by individuals who think mindfulness if a waste of time)?

A recent study explored these questions. The best way to determine if an intervention works is to test it experimentally by randomly assigning people to a control group (no intervention) or a comparison group (with the intervention/treatment). This way you can determine if the outcomes are due to the intervention or something else like random error. The researchers randomly assigned 267 police offers to either a control group or an experimental group (a 6-week mindfulness training program*) to put it to the test.

The results showed that the mindfulness intervention worked. When compared to the control group, the police officers who received the mindfulness exercise were able to reduce psychological strain, health complaints, and negative affect. So that answers the first question — interventions do work for individuals in more macho jobs.

How about the second question about the social context? The answer was “no and yes”. The intervention still worked for those surrounded by colleagues who are not supportive of mindfulness interventions, but the intervention worked better for those surrounded by more supportive colleagues.

Mental wellbeing is incredibly important for healthy workers and productive workplaces. This study shows that mindfulness interventions can have a positive impact in a variety of workplaces. It also demonstrates the importance of a social context that supports mindfulness. Leaders should work to build a climate that supports wellbeing.

At Propulo Consulting, we care about the health and wellbeing of all workers. We partner with you to improve the world of work using the latest insights from research. Our team has the expertise to help your business build a safer and healthier culture.

* The training included mindfulness practices (e.g., breathing, body scan), mindful body movements and stretching, cognitive education (e.g., stress processes), and homework practice/exercises. They were led by an experienced trainer and lessons were integrated into police education.

The referenced article: Krick, A., & Felfe, J. (2020). Who benefits from mindfulness? The moderating role of personality and social norms for the effectiveness on psychological and physiological outcomes among police officers. Journal of occupational health psychology, 25(2), 99.


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