Using Mindfulness to Reduce Occupational Stress and Burnout in Music Teachers: A Randomized Controlled Trial
Varona, Dana Arbaugh
Hewitt, Michael P
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The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of a mindfulness-based intervention (MBI) on K-12 music educators' self-reported responses to occupational stress and burnout. Secondary purposes were (a) to explore the experiences of K-12 music educators who underwent a four-week web-based MBI; and (b) to determine if there were any potential relations between participants' demographic and descriptive data and their pretest levels of self-reported responses to occupational stress and burnout. Two hundred fifty in-service music teachers were randomly assigned to either the treatment or waitlist-control group. Treatment group participants (n = 90) underwent a four-week online MBI known as the Mindfulness Training for Music Educators (MTME). Waitlist-control group participants (n = 160) were not provided with any mindfulness training but were given full access to the MTME following completion of the study. All participants completed assessments of self-reported responses to occupational stress and burnout at pretest, midpoint, and posttest. Following completion of the MTME, treatment group participants provided data regarding their experiences with the MTME and its feasibility. Results of mixed effects regression suggested that treatment group participants reported significantly steeper decreases in responses to occupational stress and burnout than waitlist-control group participants. Cross-sectional analyses at pretest indicated that age, female gender, salary dissatisfaction, perceived lack of administrative support, and perceived lack of parental support were significant predictors of increased responses to occupational stress, while teaching secondary school, salary dissatisfaction, perceived lack of administrative support, and perceived lack of parental support were significant predictors of increased responses to burnout. For each additional extracurricular hour worked beyond the school day, there was small but significant decrease in burnout. During the intervention period, the treatment group participants experienced a variety of occupational stressors including managing students, major events, interpersonal conflict, scheduling issues, and illness. Participants primarily responded to occupational stress with emotion-focused coping strategies such as breathing and meditation. Overall, treatment group participants found the MTME to be feasible for reducing stress and burnout while working as a music teacher and would recommend it to a fellow music educator.