A Two-Session ACT Intervention with Healthcare Workers During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



First Advisor

Amy Naugle, Ph.D.

Second Advisor

Scott Gaynor, Ph.D.

Third Advisor

Brooke Smith, Ph.D.

Fourth Advisor

Lisa Singleterry, Ph.D.


Acceptance and commitment therapy, healthcare workers, mental health, pandemic


Research with healthcare workers during the pandemic has showed elevations in anxious, depressive, and trauma-related symptoms as well as moral distress and burnout (Amsalem et al., 2021; Bidzan et al., 2020; Lai et al., 2020; Norman et al., 2021). With the exacerbation of psychological distress in healthcare workers during and likely following the COVID-19 pandemic, research about effective and efficient interventions with this population is vital. Acceptance and Commitment Therapy (ACT) interventions may provide benefit during times of crisis through increasing psychological flexibility. There is a deficit in examining individual ACT interventions with healthcare workers. The present study used a nonconcurrent multiple baseline design to examine the effectiveness of a two-session, ACT intervention with healthcare workers during the pandemic. All pre-post comparisons were significant (p < .05) in pairwise comparisons with the Bonferroni correction following significant repeated measures ANOVAs and Friedman tests. Significant pre-post reductions were shown for anxiety (-2.35), depression (-4.31), trauma-related symptoms (-11.44), burnout (-6.83), life impairment (-4.19), and COVID-19 related anxiety (-1.96). Overall, these results support the potential usefulness of brief ACT interventions in an individual format with healthcare workers during health crises. However, these results should be interpreted with caution given the study did not have a control group and is limited in being able to control for confounding variables such as changes in stress due to the pandemic over time. Despite the limitations, these results are promising and show that brief, individual ACT interventions with healthcare workers warrant further exploration.

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