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Efficacy of a smartphone-based intervention — “Holidaily” — promoting recovery behaviour in workers after a vacation: study protocol for a randomised controlled trial

  • Background: While work-related rumination increases the risk of acute stressors developing into chronic load reactions and adverse health, mental detachment has been suggested as a way to interrupt this chain. Despite the importance of mentally detaching from work during leisure time, workers seem to struggle to disengage and, instead, experience the constant mental representation of work-related stressors, regardless of their absence. Those who struggle with work-related rumination could benefit from an easy-access intervention that fosters mental detachment by promoting recreational activities. Especially during vacations, workers appear to naturally engage in sufficient recovery activities; however, this beneficial behaviour is not sustained. The smartphone app-based intervention “Holidaily” promotes recovery behaviour and, thus, mental detachment from work with the intension of extending the beneficial effects of workers’ vacations into their daily working life. Methods: This randomised-controlled trial (RCT) evaluates the efficacy of “Holidaily”. The Holidaily app is a German stand-alone program for mobile devices with either Android/iOS operating systems. The sample includes workers, who are awaiting to go on vacation and are randomly assigned to either the intervention (IG) or a waitlist-control group (CG). The IG receives two weeks pre-vacation access to Holidaily, while the CG receives access two weeks post-vacation. On a daily basis participants in the IG are provided with three options promoting recreational activities and beneficial recovery experiences. Online questionnaires are distributed to all participants at several timepoints. The primary outcome measure assesses participants’ work-related rumination (Irritation Scale). A significant difference two weeks post-vacation is expected, favouring the IG. Secondary outcomes include symptoms of depression, insomnia severity, emotional exhaustion, thinking about work, recovery experiences, vacation specifics, work and personal characteristics. To help explain the intervention’s effect, explorative analyses will investigate the mediation properties of the frequency of engaging in recreational activities and the moderation properties of Holidaily users’ experiences. Discussion: If successful, workers will maintain their recovery behaviour beyond their vacation into daily working life. Findings could, therefore, provide evidence for low-intensity interventions that could be very valuable from a public-health perspective. App-based interventions have greater reach; hence, more workers might access preventative tools to protect themselves from developing adverse health effects linked to work-related rumination. Further studies will still be needed to investigate whether the vacation phenomenon of “lots of fun quickly gone” can be defied and long-term benefits attained.

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Document Type:Article
Author:Alexandra Smyth, Jessica De Bloom, Christine Syrek, Markus Domin, Monique Janneck, Jo Annika Reins, Dirk Lehr
Parent Title (English):BMC Public Health
Article Number:1252
Number of pages:17
Publisher:BioMed Central
Publishing Institution:Hochschule Bonn-Rhein-Sieg
Date of first publication:2020/08/26
Copyright:© The Author(s) 2020. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Funding Information:Funding: The health insurance company, Barmer, funded the “Holidaily” research project.
Departments, institutes and facilities:Fachbereich Wirtschaftswissenschaften
Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC):1 Philosophie und Psychologie / 15 Psychologie / 150 Psychologie
Entry in this database:2020/08/27
Licence (German):License LogoCreative Commons - CC BY - Namensnennung 4.0 International