What Is the Impact of Online Training in Mind-Body Skills?

J Evid Based Complementary Altern Med. 2015 Oct;20(4):275-82. doi: 10.1177/2156587215580882. Epub 2015 May 11.


Background: Mind-body skills (MBS) training is popular, but in-person training can be inconvenient and costly. We assessed the impact of online MBS training on clinicians' and trainees' stress, mindfulness, and confidence in providing calm, compassionate care.

Methods: This was a prospective cohort trial. Trainees entering medical school; graduate programs in nursing, social work, and dietetics; and residencies in family medicine and pediatrics at a large Midwestern academic health center were invited to complete online surveys before and 12 weeks after enrolling in online elective integrative health courses on MBS training or not. The elective offered no course credit and had no mandated deadlines for completion.

Results: At baseline, the 60 who engaged in MBS training were similar to the 43 who did not in terms of profession, gender, perceived stress levels, mindfulness, resilience, and compassion. MBS participants engaged in a median of 3 of 12 available modules with a bimodal distribution peaking at 1 to 2 and 12 modules. Twelve weeks later, those who participated in MBS showed significantly greater improvements in measures of stress, mindfulness, and confidence in providing calm, compassionate care than those who did not.

Conclusions: Online elective training offers a feasible strategy to improve mindfulness, stress, and confidence in providing calm, compassionate care. Additional studies are needed to determine the impact of required versus elective courses, the optimal dosage and content of training, and the costs and benefits of online versus in-person training.

Keywords: care; compassion; complementary; education; integrative; mindfulness; resilience; stress.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Education / methods*
  • Empathy
  • Female
  • Health Personnel / education*
  • Health Personnel / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mindfulness*
  • Online Systems
  • Prospective Studies
  • Stress, Psychological
  • Young Adult