Background: Previous studies suggested that mindfulness meditation effectively reduced stress-related anxiety and depression symptoms, but no research has evaluated the efficacy of mindfulness meditation in nurses and nursing students in China.
Objectives: To evaluate the effects of brief mindfulness meditation on the anxiety and depression symptoms and autonomic nervous system activity in Chinese nursing students.
Design: A randomized controlled trial.
Setting: A medical university in Guangzhou, China.
Participants: One hundred and five nursing students were randomly approached by email and seventy-two responded. Sixty recruited students were randomized into meditation and control group (n=30 each) after screening and exclusion due to factors known to influence mood ratings and autonomic nervous system measures.
Methods: The meditation group performed mindfulness meditation 30 min daily for 7 consecutive days. The control group received no intervention except pre-post treatment measurements. The Self-Rating Anxiety Scale and Self-Rating Depression Scale were administered to participants, and heart rate and blood pressure were measured. Pre- and post-treatment data were analyzed using repeated-measures analysis of variance.
Results: Differences between pre- and post-treatment Self-Rating Anxiety Scale scores were significantly larger in the meditation group than in the control group, but no similar effect was observed for Self-Rating Depression Scale scores. Systolic blood pressure was reduced more after the intervention in the meditation group than in the control group, with an average reduction of 2.2 mmHg. A moderate level of anxiety was associated with the maximum meditation effect.
Conclusions: Brief mindfulness meditation was beneficial for Chinese nursing students in reducing anxiety symptoms and lowering systolic blood pressure. Individuals with moderate anxiety are most likely to benefit from a short-term mindfulness meditation program.
Keywords: Anxiety; Chinese nursing students; Intervention; Mental health; Mindfulness meditation.
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