Background: High levels of stress have been identified in medical students and increasingly in other health profession student population groups. As stress can affect psychological well-being and interfere with learning and clinical performance, there is a clear argument for universities to include health professional student well-being as an outcome in core curriculum. Mindfulness training is a potential construct to manage stress and enhance academic success.
Objectives: The aims of this systematic review were to assess the effectiveness of mindfulness training in medical and other health professional student population groups and to compare the effectiveness of the different mindfulness-based programs.
Data sources: A literature search was completed using The Cochrane library, Medline, Cinahl, Embase, Psychinfo, and ERIC (proquest) electronic databases from inception to June 2016. Randomized and non-randomized controlled trials were included. Of the potential 5355 articles, 19 met the inclusion criteria.
Study selection participants and interventions: Studies focused on medical (n = 10), nursing (n = 4), social work (n = 1), psychology (n = 1), and medical plus other health (n = 3) students. Interventions were based on mindfulness.
Data extraction: The 19 studies included 1815 participants. Meta-analysis was performed evaluating the effect of mindfulness training on mindfulness, anxiety, depression, stress, mood, self-efficacy, and empathy. The effect of mindfulness on academic performance was discussed.
Data synthesis and conclusions: Mindfulness-based interventions decrease stress, anxiety, and depression and improve mindfulness, mood, self-efficacy, and empathy in health profession students. Due to the range of presentation options, mindfulness training can be relatively easily adapted and integrated into health professional training programs.
Keywords: health professional students; mindfulness; mindfulness-based stress reduction; stress; systematic review; well-being.
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