Mindfulness based stress reduction for medical students: optimising student satisfaction and engagement

BMC Med Educ. 2016 Aug 18;16(1):209. doi: 10.1186/s12909-016-0728-8.


Background: Medical practitioners and students are at increased risk of a number of personal and psychological problems. Stress and anxiety due to work-load and study requirements are common and self-care methods are important in maintaining well-being. The current study examines perceptions of and satisfaction ratings with a mindfulness based stress reduction (MBSR) programme for 1(st) year (compulsory) and 2(nd) year (optional) Graduate Entry Medical School students.

Methods: A mixed method pre and post study of Year 1 (n = 140) and Year 2 (n = 88) medical students completing a 7 week MBSR course compared student satisfaction ratings. Thematic analysis of feedback from the students on their perception of the course was also carried out.

Results: Year 1 students (compulsory course) were less satisfied with content and learning outcomes than Year 2 students (optional course) (p < .0005). Thematic analysis of year 1 student feedback identified themes including great concept, poorly executed; and less discussion, more practice. Year 2 themes included session environment and satisfaction with tutors.

Conclusions: The MBSR course was associated with high levels of satisfaction and positive feedback when delivered on an optional basis. Catering for the individual needs of the participant and promoting a safe environment are core elements of a successful self-care programme.

Keywords: Academic stress in medical students; Doctor burnout; Medical undergraduate; Mindfulness; Self-care; Stress reduction; Student satisfaction.

MeSH terms

  • Anxiety / prevention & control*
  • Anxiety / psychology
  • Burnout, Professional / prevention & control*
  • Burnout, Professional / psychology
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Formative Feedback
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mindfulness*
  • Occupational Diseases / prevention & control*
  • Occupational Diseases / psychology
  • Personal Satisfaction*
  • Program Evaluation
  • Stress, Psychological / prevention & control*
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology
  • Students, Medical / psychology*