Exploring the Effects of Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction on Pre-Clinical Medical Students: A Qualitative Methods, Longitudinal Pilot Study
Alyssa Heintschel, Scott Sabbagh, Patrick Herndon, Michael Moussa, and Ruth Lerman
Publication Date: 5-2-2022
INTRODUCTION Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction has become an increasingly popular practice in healthcare-affiliated populations. MBSR is a course designed to promote mindfulness and awareness within oneself through a combination of formal and informal practices. Studies suggest healthcare workers are at higher risk of experiencing stress and burnout; this is prevalent among pre-clinical medical students due to the rigorous nature of medical school coursework. The primary objective of this study is to evaluate the effectiveness and feasibility of implementing an MBSR program to facilitate improvements in key areas of mental health among medical students throughout their training.
METHODS 23 first- and second-year medical students from OUWB School of Medicine participated in an on-campus MBSR course from October to December 2019. The course included 31 hours of contact time (weekly classes, one all-day session) and daily home practice. During each session, participants were invited to engage in mindfulness activities including body scan, meditation, yoga, and group discussions. Participants completed two in-class, narrative-based surveys regarding their experience, along with a 12-month follow-up assessment. A qualitative analysis using Grounded Theory was used to analyze the results of the surveys.
RESULTS When asked in the endpoint assessment to describe what they learned from the course, participants reported themes such as ‘Recognition’ and ‘Acceptance’. At the 12-month interval, participants were asked to discuss the lasting impact of the MBSR course, and reported themes including ‘Non-Judgmental Awareness’ and ‘Appreciation’. ‘Relationships’ was a common theme among both assessments. Dropout and attendance rates were favorable for this rigorous, extra-curricular program.
CONCLUSIONS The themes expressed support the hypothesis that MBSR may improve the students’ mental health and ability to manage stress and burnout. Offering an MBSR course as a voluntary, for-credit option within the OUWB curriculum could improve participation and retention rates and provide opportunities for further studies.
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