An adapted, four-week mind-body skills group for medical students: reducing stress, increasing mindfulness, and enhancing self-care

Explore (NY). May-Jun 2015;11(3):186-92. doi: 10.1016/j.explore.2015.02.003. Epub 2015 Feb 16.

Abstract

Objective: Despite the well-known stress of medical school, including adverse consequences for mental and behavioral health, there is little consensus about how to best intervene in a way that accommodates students׳ intense training demands, interest in science, and desire to avoid being stigmatized. The objective of this study, therefore, was to evaluate the feasibility, acceptability, and initial effectiveness of an adapted, four-week stress management and self-care workshop for medical students, which was based on the science and practice of mind-body medicine.

Methods: The current study used a prospective, observational, and mixed methods design, with pretest and posttest evaluations. Participants (n = 44) included medical and physician-scientist (MD/PhD) students from a large, southeastern medical school. Feasibility was assessed by rates of workshop enrollment and completion. Acceptability was assessed using qualitative ratings and open-ended responses that queried perceived value of the workshop. Quantitative outcomes included students׳ ratings of stress and mindfulness using validated self-report surveys.

Results: Enrollment progressively increased from 6 to 15 to 23 students per workshop in 2007, 2009, and 2011, respectively. Of the 44 enrolled students, 36 (82%) completed the workshop, indicating that the four-session extracurricular format was feasible for most students. Students reported that the workshop was acceptable, stating that it helped them cope more skillfully with the stress and emotional challenges of medical school, and helped increase self-care behaviors, such as exercise, sleep, and engaging in social support. Students also reported a 32% decrease in perceived stress (P < .001; d = 1.38) and a 16% increase in mindfulness (P < .001; d = 0.92) following the workshop. Changes in stress and mindfulness were significantly correlated (r = -0.42; P = .01).

Conclusion: Together, these findings suggest that a brief, voluntary mind-body skills workshop specifically adapted for medical students is feasible, acceptable, and effective for reducing stress, increasing mindfulness, and enhancing student self-care.

Keywords: Medical students; mindfulness; mind–body medicine; self-care; stress.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Emotions
  • Female
  • Health Behavior
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mind-Body Relations, Metaphysical*
  • Mind-Body Therapies*
  • Mindfulness / education*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Self Care*
  • Sleep
  • Stress, Psychological / prevention & control*
  • Students, Medical / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires