Online positive psychology intervention for nursing home staff: A cluster-randomized controlled feasibility trial of effectiveness and acceptability

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Background: Nursing staff in nursing homes is at risk for stress-related problems. Positive psychology interventions have been shown to effectively improve well-being and decrease depressive symptoms, and may be beneficial for nursing staff. However, controlled studies with nursing staff are missing. Objectives and design: This is the first study to test the effectiveness and acceptability of an online multi-component positive psychology intervention in nursing home staff. This study used a cluster-randomized controlled design, with an intervention group and a control group, and measurements at baseline (T0) and following the training period (T1). We hypothesized that the intervention would improve general well-being, job satisfaction and work engagement, especially for people with low initial well-being, satisfaction or engagement. Furthermore, we explored the acceptability of such an intervention for nursing home staff. Settings and Participants: All nursing staff of the units for physically frail older adults of four Dutch nursing homes belonging to one care organization were invited to participate in this study. A sample of 128 nursing staff completed T0, and 107 nursing staff completed T1, mostly licensed practical nurses with a mean age of 42 years. Methods: The 8-week online intervention concerned information and evidence-based exercises of six topics of Positive Psychology, which were completed individually at home. General well-being, job satisfaction and work engagement were measured, and participants evaluated the intervention. Results: No time by group interaction effect was found on general well-being nor on work engagement, but there was a small effect on job satisfaction. No moderation effects of baseline outcome measures were found. The evaluation of the intervention varied: a majority positively valued the intervention, in particular the topics “positive emotions” and “strengths”, but most agreed that there was too much text and too many exercises. Conclusions: The online multi-component positive psychology intervention had only very limited effectiveness, as the decrease in job satisfaction in the control group may reflect a regression to the mean. The high baseline levels of well-being and engagement, intervention content, obligatory character of the intervention, and individuality are discussed as possible reasons for these results. Opportunities lie in creating a concise, work focused positive psychology intervention for nursing staff, including some form of autonomy support.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)48-56
Number of pages9
JournalInternational journal of nursing studies
Early online date17 Jun 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2019



  • Mental well-being
  • Nursing home
  • Online self-help
  • Personal resources
  • Positive psychology intervention
  • Work engagement

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