Background: Medical students experience a high burden of stress and suffer elevated rates of depression, burnout, and suicide compared to the general population, yet there is no consensus on how to address student wellness.
Purposes: The purpose of this study was to determine whether an abridged mindfulness based stress reduction (MBSR) intervention can improve measures of wellness in a randomized sample of 1st-year medical students.
Methods: Fifty-eight participants were randomized to control or 8-week MBSR intervention and then invited to participate in the study. All participants were assessed using the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS), the Resilience Scale (RS), and Self-Compassion Scale (SCS) at 3 separate time points: baseline, at the conclusion of the study intervention (8 weeks), and at 6 months after the conclusion of the intervention. The intervention consisted of 75 minutes of weekly class time, suggested meditation at home, and a half-day retreat in the last week.
Results: The intervention group achieved significant increase on SCS scores both at the conclusion of the study (0.58, p=.002), 95% confidence interval (CI) [0.23, 0.92], and at 6 months (0.56, p=.001), 95% CI [0.25, 0.87]. PSS scores achieved significant reduction at the conclusion of the study (3.63, p=.03), 95% CI [0.37, 6.89], but not at 6 months poststudy (2.91, p=.08), 95% CI [-0.37, 6.19]. The study did not demonstrate a difference in RS after the intervention, though RS was significantly correlated with both SCS and PSS.
Conclusions: An abridged MBSR intervention improves perceived stress and self-compassion in 1st-year medical students and may be a valuable curricular tool to enhance wellness and professional development.
Keywords: balance; mindfulness; professionalism; stress; wellness.