The purpose of this study was to explore how physical therapists (PTs) conceptualize the theory and evidence-based practice of mindfulness as a means for stress reduction in a clinical setting.
Using theoretical sampling and a grounded theory approach, 8 PT students in their final clinical experience recruited 8 PTs to participate in weekly mindfulness activities. They interviewed participants in week 12. Interview questions explored participant thoughts and feelings about mindfulness, including how the activities influenced their professional lives, health habits, and ability to manage stress. After graduation, coauthors analyzed data with the principal investigator (AW) using the constant comparative method. The process of learning about mindfulness is depicted in a series of pictures and is based on themes from coded interview data.
Four themes emerged from the data. Theme 1 (I Need to Fix This) characterized a desire to manage stress with a tangible strategy. Theme 2 (I Pause and I Notice but this is Hard) characterized awareness of difficult thoughts and emotions. Theme 3 (Mindfulness Works) emerged as participants shared direct benefits from practicing the tenants of mindfulness. Theme 4 (I Need Support) characterized the desire to be led by an expert, in an ongoing fashion, with the comfort of others to share the experience.
Altogether, these data suggest that PTs embraced this evidencebased strategy to practice self-care within and outside of the clinic. Ideally, mindfulness should be introduced early in the PT education program and practiced regularly to minimize student stress. It is recommended that students, with instruction from qualified teachers, lead efforts to introduce mindful practice to sites as part of their clinical training.