Objectives: To assess the effectiveness of a stress reduction elective on Year 2 medical students and to assess the sustainability of any noted improvement.
Methods: A new elective entitled 'Mind-Body Medicine: an Experiential Elective' was offered to Year 2 medical students. It was based on a course developed by the Center for Mind-Body Medicine. Enrolled students were surveyed on the first (time 1) and last (time 2) days of the elective and again 3 months later (time 3). Four validated self-report instruments were used to examine effects on anxiety, stress, mood states and depression. A comparison group of non-enrolled classmates completed the same instruments during the same timeframes. The study began in autumn 2004 and ended in June 2005.
Results: Participating students had higher initial anxiety scores than students in the comparison group. Anxiety in the study group declined significantly during the course, with enrolled students becoming indistinguishable from non-enrolled counterparts. These decreased anxiety levels were sustained for 3 months following the conclusion of the course.
Conclusions: This elective was successful in attracting students who were more anxious than their peers. Enrolees had higher baseline anxiety levels than their peers. The course decreased anxiety levels. The significant drop in anxiety scores of the study group suggests that this mind-body elective was an effective way to decrease anxiety in these pre-clinical medical students. Decreases in anxiety were sustained 3 months after the course ended, indicating that the benefits of the course may be longlasting.