Survey of mindfulness teachers

Based on the interviews and the general research on national infrastructure, a questionnaire was designed. The original ethics application (Appendix A) had an indicative questionnaire, and this was significantly revised to clearly focus on a small number of areas with the intention of providing more quantitative support of the views expressed in the interviews (see Appendix A for the full questionnaire). The questionnaire was broken into six areas: the background of the responder, views on usefulness of certain data, what would help an MBA teacher, views on data sharing, what might help MBA delivery, and a general testing of opinions on key issues. The detailed questions were structured with five responses: strongly agree, agree, broadly neutral, disagree, and strongly disagree. Opportunities were given to provide comments on the question topics.

The questionnaire was advertised on Bangor University Centre for Mindfulness Research and Practice social media, including an email to masters students. The questionnaire was also distributed at the July 2016 conference, alongside an interim presentation of results (Lunn & Crane, 2016). Returns were collected electronically using the Bangor University online survey system, and on paper; the paper-collected data was entered into the electronic system. 61 responses came in over a six week period.

Q1: Background of respondent, and contact details.

This question was intended to provide some insight into the individuals who responded. In addition, it was intended to collect names and emails of people who may be interested in further engaging with the research.

The majority of respondents (92%) taught MBAs, with a high proportion (36%) doing research. A high proportion (52%) have some formal qualification in teaching MBAs, and a significant number teach as a therapy in the NHS (20%), as a therapy outside the NHS (18%), in schools (23%), in the workplace (38%), and a significant proportion are a member of a professional body related to the delivery of care (39%). 62% provided email contact details and 48% expressed an interest in being interviewed as part of the research.

Q2: Useful information for an MBA teacher / researcher / commissioner

This question was intended to set the context for the later questions, by inviting views on the utility of certain types of information. The question was framed in terms of what the respondent would find useful, and the percentage who agree or strongly agree is remarkably high:


The information below would be useful to you as an MBA teacher / researcher / commissioner
Strongly Agree
Agree
Broadly Neutral
Disagree
Strongly Disagree
No Response
A classification of MBAs being used routinely, with clear information on how different MBAs relate to each other and are adapted.
36%
52%
3%
3%
0%
5%
What MBAs are being delivered nationally, with numbers of participants, broken down by type and geographic regions.
23%
43%
20%
8%
0%
7%
How the MBA teaching community is developing in capability (e.g. numbers of teachers, training, experience, qualifications).
31%
51%
10%
3%
0%
5%
How individual MBAs are composed in terms of practices (including recommended intensity of practices), home practices, education elements, and class hours.
31%
54%
10%
0%
0%
5%
Numbers of people taking MBAs, grouped by type of MBA.
18%
51%
21%
3%
0%
7%
The experience and qualifications of individual teachers of MBA courses.
41%
38%
13%
3%
0%
5%
How MBAs impact long term general health and wellbeing.
74%
25%
0%
0%
0%
2%
How MBAs impact long term specific health issues (e.g. anxiety, cardiac disease).
62%
25%
7%
0%
0%
7%

The last two items on impact on long term health and specific health issues had high strong agreement (over 60%). It is a fair conclusion from the above, that the MBA teaching community has a strong appetite for rich and detailed information, and is an endorsement of the vision expressed in the strategy below (Recommendation 1). There were some useful diverse comments, with one dominant theme being the need for data to support improving the quality of mindfulness teaching.

This strongly supports the need for a programme of work (Recommendation 2).

Q3: Useful information for MBA course delivery

The question was intended to focus on information around course delivery. Again the proportion of agree or strongly agree was remarkably high:


The following would help you in terms of getting the information you need to deliver an MBA course to a group:
Strongly Agree
Agree
Broadly Neutral
Disagree
Strongly Disagree
No Response
Guidelines on what data to gather about participants prior to a course, and how best to gather that, adapted to the context (e.g. NHS, workplace, schools).

49%

36%
8%
0%
0%
7%

Standard forms that you could adapt for people to complete prior to joining a course.

39%

34%
15%
3%
0%
8%

Guidelines on what data to gather from participants at the end of a course.

39%

44%
11%
0%
0%
5%

Standard forms that you could adapt for people completing a course.

36%

38%
18%
0%
0%
8%

Education and training on record keeping and data, including what is considered good practice, and what the ethical and legal obligations are on collecting, storing and retaining data.

41%

36%
13%
3%
2%
5%


There was some disagreement on the need for standard forms priosr to a course (3%) and education and training (5%), and between 5% and 8% of respondents did not answer parts of this question. It is therefore a fair conclusion that the MBA teaching community have a strong appetite for guidelines and standards on record keeping and education and training. There were some diverse comments, that gave an impression that provided they were not overly restrictive guidelines, standards and education would be welcomed. This strongly supports recommendations 6 and 7.

Q4: Acceptability of data sharing

This question was focused around data sharing. Again the agreement and strong agreement was high:


The following would be acceptable to you in terms of sharing data more widely:
Strongly Agree
Agree
Broadly Neutral
Disagree
Strongly Disagree
No Response
Sharing details of your experience and training.

43%

41%
13%
0%
0%
3%

Sharing details of courses and numbers of participants on courses that you deliver.

26%

44%
20%
3%
0%
7%

Sharing anonymously details of participants for research purposes, where participants have given consent.

28%

43%
20%
7%
0%
3%

The creation of a secure database of people who have completed MBA courses who are willing to participate in long term studies.

38%

41%
11%
5%
0%
5%


The general comments were mainly around cost and impact of data sharing, and some concerns around consent and confidentiality. Disagreement on sharing on the last three questions was less than 10%. This strongly supports recommendations 8 and 9.

Q4: Aids to MBA teaching

The intention of this question was to explore the acceptability of tools that might help a teacher. Again the agreement and strong agreement was high:


The following would be helpful for you in developing your MBA teaching:
Strongly Agree
Agree
Broadly Neutral
Disagree
Strongly Disagree
No Response
Apps or web resources to support MBA course participants, including guided practices and educational materials.

34%

44%
10%
2%
2%
8%

Some form of online resource to facilitate group engagement outside of the MBA class during delivery of a course.

33%

30%
21%
8%
0%
8%

Some form of online resource to faciliate group engagement after an MBA course has finished.

52%

34%
7%
2%
0%
5%

Online tools (e.g. depression or anxiety scales) to help with assessment of participants prior to and after a course

36%

30%
21%
5%
2%
7%


There were some good and useful comments that should inform more detailed planning and development. Some good points were made about diverting people from the intent of a particular MBA, restricting MBA teacher creativity, and the potential for inappropriate use of scales if there is inadequate training. This strongly supports recommendation 10.

Q6: Views on some key issues

The intention of this question was to test views on a range of topics. Therefore agreement and disagreement were more evenly spread:


The following accord with your views:
Strongly Agree
Agree
Broadly Neutral
Disagree
Strongly Disagree
No Response
Record keeping and data sharing should always be at the discretion of the MBA teacher.

34%

28%
13%
15%
5%
5%

Record Keeping and data sharing should not interfere with MBA course delivery.

59%

30%
5%
2%
0%
5%

In a clinical context, record keeping and data sharing should be standardised and mandatory.

36%

30%
21%
3%
5%
5%

In a schools context, record keeping and data sharing should be standardised and mandatory.

28%

26%
30%
5%
7%
5%

In a workplace context, record keeping and data sharing should be standardised and mandatory.

7%

25%
34%
13%
13%
8%

In a prison context, record keeping and data sharing should be standardised and mandatory.

25%

25%
28%
8%
8%
7%

In a general public course context, record keeping and data sharing should be standardised and mandatory.

8%

13%
31%
23%
16%
8%

National databases cause you concern in terms of confidentiality.

33%

21%
21%
15%
3%
7%

National databases cause you concern in terms of utility and cost of development.

20%

31%
33%
8%
3%
5%

It should be possible, with appropriate consent, to link data on MBA participants with general health data.

16%

33%
23%
13%
10%
5%


The comments on these questions were more mixed, with some strong concerns voiced. In the development of any national data strategy, these types of concern need to be addressed, particularly if there is any long term desire to require some types of data management in some contexts.

This strongly suggests the need for an authoritative representative group to oversee the development of a national information strategy and plan that is sensitive to a range of issues, balancing practical, ethical and legal aspects with the aspiration to obtain data, and being sensitive to the diverse areas of application (Recommendation 3).

General comments from survey participants

There were 88 comments made across the different questions. Using the same framework used for the interviews, these touched on a number of themes:














Theme
Percentage of Statements Touching on Theme
Information Need

19%

Data Collection

1%

Data Retention

1%

Data Sharing

10%

Confidentiality

7%

Context

6%

Costs and practicability

10%

Standards and Guidelines

18%

Legal and Ethical

22%

Teaching / Recording Aids

16%

Ontology

3%

Education and Training

5%

Impact on Delivery of MBAs

18%


This suggests a similar regard for legal and ethical issues, and an appetite for teaching aids. Though these were additional comments, they are potentially useful for follow-on work. A table is included in Appendix B, mapping statements onto themes.

Conclusions

The information needs of the MBA teaching community are manifest, and developing. MBPs are developing fast in variety and application. At present there is a national strategy for further developing MBAs in the UK (Mindfulness Initiative, 2015), and this arguably should be supported by a national information strategy and plan. The interviews and surveys undertaken show not only a perceived need for good data, but a willingness to engage, and a mature set of views that balance areas of cost and risk with benefits; the findings support the recommendations.