A program to reduce stress and burnout among nurses, who are prone to high rates of injury and illness leading to absenteeism, has been proven successful at Hadassah University Medical Center in Jerusalem’s Ein Kerem, a leading medical journal reports.A 15-page study showing its efficacy has been published in the latest issue of the journal Behavioral Medicine.This is an important finding, as there is already a severe shortage of nurses in Israel and most Western countries.Dr. Sarah Sallon, Deborah Katz-Eisner and Hila Yaffe of the hospital’s Louis Borick Natural Medicine Center Tali Bdolah- Abram of the Hebrew University-Hadassah School of Medicine worked with 97 nurses and compared the eight-month-long course’s results with a control group of 67 nurses, who did not participate.The course to cut stress and burnout proved to have significant positive effects when the nurses were tested with questionnaires.Nurses are burdened with high responsibility, the need to multi-task, shift work with disrupted sleep, low social support, constrained decision making and constant exposure to suffering and dying, the authors wrote.Many also suffer from lower-back pain as they move patients around. As a result, numerous nurses drop out of their positions. Sallon and colleagues objectively assessed a “Caring for the Caregivers” program involving numerous techniques, including mindfulness (meditation), relaxation (body awareness), drawing, writing journals, a listening circle, movement, interactive dance, acupressure (on fingers) and shiatsu (palm pressure).The program was offered to nurses between 2000 and 2009, with 75 hours of instruction in 30 weekly sessions (2.25 hours a week) and a final full-day workshop.Katz-Eisner, who designed the program and has taught yoga, meditation and shiatsu (palm massage) for more than 20 years, was the instructor.The researchers found that the stress-reduction intervention was associated with “very significant improvements” compared to controls in the quality of work as measured by a decrease in job-related tension, increased work productivity, fewer symptoms of stress and emotional exhaustion associated with burnout and improvement in mood, physical and mental health symptoms.Nurses in the program suffered fewer upper respiratory tract infections and visited doctors less frequently. Their levels of satisfaction rose as well.The authors concluded that the program could greatly help nurses anywhere, but that Caring for Caregivers should be compared to other stress-reduction interventions to assess its effect on specific groups of hospital workers less targeted by stress-reduction programs.They suggested that their program be tested in other highly stressful professions such as the police, military, teachers and fire fighters, with appropriate modifications to address the specific nature of stress in those professions.