Implementing a Zen Room to Influence Well-Being in Rural Hospital Employees
Purpose: The COVID-19 pandemic significantly increased work-related stress and anxiety in healthcare workers worldwide, increasing their potential for burnout. Rural hospitals experienced additional challenges as they often provided care with limited resources and staff. Efforts are made by rural hospitals to mitigate employees’ work-related stress and anxiety, but few studies or projects have been published that highlight these efforts. Our evidence-based practice project aimed to answer the question, does the use of a “Zen” or recovery room influence rural healthcare staff stress and anxiety levels during their shift?
Sample: The project’s convenience sample included 36 healthcare workers and hospital staff in an acute care facility, solely servicing a rural county in north-central Texas.
Method: Following the IOWA Model, a literature search was conducted, and IRB review of the project was obtained. A private, restful space was created in a room with soft lighting, a massage chair, aromatherapy, and other various tools for relaxation. From June 2021 – January 2022, all staff were invited to use the room and complete a brief voluntary anonymous survey when they entered and exited the room. An additional short-answer survey was conducted in March 2022 to explore employees’ perceptions of the project.
Findings: On average, participants reported significantly lower levels of stress and anxiety after using the Zen room. Pre-room anxiety scores significantly predicted participants’ post-room stress levels. Barriers to room use included employee’s perception of available time and enough staff during the shift to step away from their duties.
Conclusion: The availability of private, uninterrupted space decreased staff stress and anxiety and allowed them to return to work with a renewed sense of energy. Rural hospitals would benefit in implementing such a space and conducting further research on the effects of stress and anxiety levels, even as COVID-19 shifts to an endemic disease.
Keywords: evidence-based practice project, rural hospitals, healthcare workers and staff, stress, anxiety
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