Mindfulness Training in First Responders

Motivated by the growing interest in promoting resilience in first responders and other professionals who face threatening professional circumstances, the current study investigated the effectiveness of offering a short-form mindfulness training (MT) program to firefighters. The overarching question was to determine if psychological and cognitive markers of resilience are bolstered via MT. Firefighters (n=121) were assigned to an MT program (n = 42), an active-comparison relaxation training program (RT, n = 31), or served as no-training controls (NTC, n = 48). Both the MT and RT programs were contextualized for firefighters and consisted of 4, 2-h training sessions delivered over 4 weeks by the same expert trainer, as well as 10–15 min of daily out-of-class practice. Intent-to-treat analyses revealed a significantly greater increase in psychological resilience from baseline (T1) to post-training (T2) in firefighters who received MT vs. RT or no training. In addition, positive affect and objective attentional task performance demonstrated a greater increase over time (from T1 to T2) with more days per week of out-of-class practice for the MT group but not for the RT group. These results suggest that MT moreso than RT bolsters markers of resilience in firefighters.