Introduction: Graduate healthcare students experience significant stressors during professional training. Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) is a behavioural intervention designed to teach self-regulatory skills for stress reduction and emotion management. This study examines the impact of MBSR training on students from five healthcare graduate programs in a quasi-experimental trial.
Methods: A total of 13 students completed the MBSR program and were compared with 15 controls. Both groups answered validated questionnaires measuring anxiety, burnout and empathy at baseline, at conclusion of the course (week 8) and 3 weeks post-course completion (week 11).
Results: Significant decrease in anxiety at weeks 8 and 11 compared with baseline (P<0.001 and P<0.01, respectively) was observed using the Burns Anxiety Inventory. Significant increase in empathy at week 8 (P<0.0096) was observed using the Jefferson Scale of Physician Empathy. Week 11 demonstrated a decrease in empathy from baseline (not statistically significant) across all subjects. No significant differences in burnout scores at weeks 8 and 11 were observed between those in the intervention and control groups.
Conclusions: These results provide supportive evidence of MBSR as a behavioural intervention to reduce anxiety and increase empathy among graduate healthcare students.