30 Day Mobile App Programs for Stress Management in Customer Service Representatives

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Carnegie Mellon University




Psychological Stress


Behavioral: Reflection and Problem Solving
Behavioral: Mindfulness Training

Study type


Funder types




Details and patient eligibility


Burnout and stress at work can make individuals less productive, which can carry over into their personal and at-home lives and negatively impact health. Customer service representatives are under especially high strain as they are exposed to significant interpersonal conflict at work, both with frustrated customers and with pressure from coworkers and supervisors. However, recent research has found that different stress management interventions (e.g., mindfulness meditation training) can increase job satisfaction and work productivity. However, individuals with significant stress might find these training program classes difficult to attend with their busy schedules. Newer interventions have focused on smartphone mobile applications as an effective delivery system for these training programs. Thus, the purpose of this project is to conduct a randomized controlled trial (RCT) comparing two different stress management smartphone app programs to evaluate effects on job-related outcomes, functional and structural brain outcomes, and biology.

Full description

Approach: Employees will be given study flyers describing the study and encouraged to call a project hotline to evaluate their study eligibility. Eligible participants will be scheduled for an in-person study baseline and neuroimaging appointment at Carnegie Mellon University where they will provide written informed consent, complete baseline survey measures, provide several drops of blood via a finger prick (Dried Blood Spot (DBS) samples), and complete a 60-minute neuroimaging scan. After completing baseline measures participants will be instructed on how to download and use the Headspace smartphone app, and will be randomly assigned to one of the two programs. Participants will be asked to complete a 7- minute end-of-day daily diary measure each day during the treatment period, which will measure stress, affect, sleep, and workplace perceptions (a text message link will be sent an hour before the participant's standard bedtime each day). The project team will monitor treatment adherence (participants who do not complete a daily practice session will be called and reminded the following day). In the week following the end of the treatment period, participants will be scheduled to come back to Carnegie Mellon for a post-treatment appointment where they will complete the same measures as at baseline (survey measures, DBS, and neuroimaging). Participants will then be debriefed, compensated, and dismissed. Approximately two months after participants complete the 30-day program, we will call them for a 15-minute follow-up call. During this call, participants will answer a few questionnaire items and a brief program evaluation. Interventions: Participants will be asked to complete one lesson daily for 30- days on the Headspace app; the first ten lessons will be 10 minutes long, the next ten will be 15 minutes long, and the final ten will be 20 minutes long. The mindfulness program will consist of the standard base program offered in Headspace. The Recharge program will consist of problem solving and stress management instruction. Setting and Participants: David Creswell's Health and Human Performance Laboratory at Carnegie Mellon University will direct this study. Participants will be customer service employees (those who interact with customers daily via phone or in-person interactions) recruited from the Pittsburgh region.


100 patients




18 to 70 years old


Accepts Healthy Volunteers

Inclusion criteria

Fluent in English * 18-70 years old * Planning to remain in the Pittsburgh area for the duration of participation * Endorse significant work stress

Exclusion criteria

* Any significant mental and physical health conditions * Metal implants * Significant claustrophobia

Trial design

Primary purpose

Basic Science



Interventional model

Parallel Assignment


Single Blind

100 participants in 2 patient groups

Active Comparator group
30-day smartphone based mindfulness training intervention consisting of 10-minutes for the first 10 days, 15 minutes for the next 10 days, and 20 minutes for the final 10 days.
Behavioral: Mindfulness Training
Active Comparator group
30-day smartphone based reflection and problem solving training intervention consisting of 10-minutes for the first 10 days, 15 minutes for the next 10 days, and 20 minutes for the final 10 days.
Behavioral: Reflection and Problem Solving

Trial contacts and locations



Data sourced from clinicaltrials.gov

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