Fostering Resilience among Mothers under Stress: “Authentic Connections Groups” for Medical Professionals

Suniya Luthar, Alexandria Curlee, Susannah J. Tye, Judith C. Engelman, Cynthia M. Stonnington

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

29 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background We report on effects of an intervention to foster resilience among professional women at high risk for stress and burnout: health care providers (physicians, PhD clinicians, physician assistants, and nurse practitioners) who are mothers. Methods Between February and November 2015, 40 mothers on staff at the Mayo Clinic, Arizona, were assigned randomly to either 1) 12 weekly 1-hour sessions of a structured, relational supportive intervention, the Authentic Connections Groups (n = 21) with protected time to attend sessions or to 2) 12 weekly hours of protected time to be used as desired (controls; n = 19). Participants were assessed at baseline, after the intervention, and 3 months follow-up on multiple psychological measures plus plasma cortisol. Results Across the 12 weeks of the intervention groups, there were zero dropouts. After the intervention, analyses of covariance showed significantly greater improvements (p < .05) for mothers in the Authentic Connections Groups than control condition for depression and global symptoms. By 3 months follow-up, significant differences were seen for these two dimensions and almost all other central variables, including self-compassion, feeling loved, physical affection received, and parenting stress, with moderate effect sizes (ηp 2 0.08–0.19; median, 0.16). Participants in the Authentic Connections Groups (but not control) condition also showed significant reductions in cortisol levels at both after the intervention and follow-up. Conclusions Facilitated colleague support groups could be a viable, low-cost, preventive intervention to mitigate burnout and distress for mothers in high-stress professional settings such as hospitals, resulting in personal benefit, greater engagement at work, and attenuated stress associated with parenting.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)382-390
Number of pages9
JournalWomen's Health Issues
Volume27
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Maternity and Midwifery

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