In a systematic review published in Academic Psychiatry, researchers recommend 7 online tools and mobile apps to help healthcare professionals reduce stress, burnout, depression, and suicidal behaviors.
In the paper, Sarah Pospos, MD, from the University of California San Diego, and colleagues note that 24% to 54% of healthcare professionals experience burnout, but only a minority seek treatment. The researchers cite cost, lack of time, and concerns regarding stigma, potential career implications, and confidentiality as contributing factors.
To address the specific needs of healthcare professionals, the researchers sought to identify Web-based or mobile interventions that were convenient, affordable, accessible, and confidential.
The researchers identified 36 resources and recommended 7 digital resources across 5 categories, including breathing, meditation, cognitive behavior therapy, and suicide prevention apps.
The recommended resources are as follows:
1. Breathe2Relax: a mobile app that provides guided breathing instruction through video and audio tutorials
2. Headspace: a mobile app that guides users through meditation sessions, which has been shown to reduce depressive symptoms
3. Guided audio files from the University of California San Diego: Online resources with guided meditation audios that include mindfulness-based stress reduction, which have been shown to improve mental well-being
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
4. MoodGYM: an online 5-week cognitive behavioral therapy program proven to decrease suicide ideation in medical interns
5. Stress Gym: an online program that includes 8 modules and step-by-step stress management guides
6. Virtual Hope Box: a mobile app for suicide prevention that helps users with coping, relaxation, distraction, and positive thinking
7. Stay Alive: a suicide prevention app that provides customized safety plans, breathing and grounding exercise tutorials, and an online discussion forum
The investigators note that MoodGYM is the only recommended resource that is evidence based. They hope that future research will evaluate the effectiveness of such resources among healthcare professionals.
“By intervening with technology-based resources at the burnout stages,” concluded the researchers, “we hope to enhance healthcare students’ or professionals’ coping with the customary stresses and strains of their everyday life.”
Pospos S, Young IT, Downs N, et al. Web-based tools and mobile applications to mitigate burnout, depression, and suicidality among healthcare students and professionals: a systematic review [published online December 18, 2017]. Acad Psychiatry. doi: 10.1007/s40596-017-0868-0