Training Character in Mexican Healthcare Providers as a Pathway to Mental Health and Well-being​

TWCF0630

Director: Richard J. Davidson

Institution: The Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System

The COVID-19 pandemic has catalyzed a mental health crisis that has been particularly hard on healthcare providers (HCPs) and healthcare systems in developing countries, posing a serious global mental health challenge. With this project, the Center for Healthy Minds at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and AtentaMente hope to address the mental health and well-being of HCPs in Mexico and, in the longer term, throughout Latin America.

Rooted in the belief that character development is vital to coping with stressful events, resilience, professional fulfillment, and human flourishing, AtentaMente and the Center for Healthy Minds independently developed two character-based digital interventions: The Stress Toolbox for Health Providers (STH) and the Healthy Minds Program (HMP). The former uses a synchronous, Zoom-based format, and the latter an app-based format. They both aim to strengthen four key pillars of character that underlie well-being: Awareness, Connection, Insight, and Purpose (ACIP).

Led by project director Richard J. Davidson and Leandro Chernicoff, the team aims to integrate the STH and the HMP, then embark on a rigorous scientific evaluation of the resulting 12-week program, the Integrated Stress Toolbox for Healthcare Providers (ISTH). Integration of the two programs is expected to improve character development and well-being outcomes beyond what could be achieved by either in isolation by marrying the benefits of synchronous instruction with the continuity and accessibility of a portable, app-based program. The team expects this character-based, digital health intervention to represent a significant step towards a cost-effective, scalable, and culturally relevant method of improving mental health and well-being in HCPs in Mexico and Latin America.

Research on the ISTH will assess outcomes related to the mental health, well-being, stress biology, job performance, and character strength development in over 4,000 Mexican HCPs in a randomized waitlist-controlled trial. The resulting dataset will represent one of the largest character strength development datasets ever compiled. In addition to providing efficacy data on the ISTH, the research design will enable careful examination of causal pathways of expected benefit.

Key outputs will include the ISTH, the study dataset, scientific publications, a series of awareness and dissemination talks, and a policy brief.

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