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Evaluating mindfulness training for medical and PhD nursing students

27 June 2019
Volume 28 · Issue 12



it is recognised that mindfulness training can positively impact holistic wellbeing and can improve mood, focus and resilience. Health service students often experience high levels of psychological morbidity. Engaging in mindfulness techniques may positively impact the psychological wellbeing of healthcare students. This is of vital importance to ensure optimum learning for healthcare practice with its associated challenges.


an evaluation was conducted with medical students (n=4) and PhD nursing students (n=6), who took part in a mindfulness-based workshop, followed by five weekly 30-minute sessions of mindfulness training, including a 15-minute meditation exercise. Data collection was carried out at baseline and post intervention, followed by a focus group discussion to elucidate qualitative experiences.


significant findings were identified with respect to cognitive mindfulness scores (P=0.02) and resilience (P=0.04).


data reflected three themes: the impact of mindfulness and maintaining practice, improvements in wellbeing, and improvements in academic endeavour.


this evaluation found significant improvements in the ability to cope with stress and increased attention and resilience in all students. Although results are not generalisable in this small evaluation, students reported increased concentration levels and improved focus, both of which are likely to impact positively on any psychological symptoms, particularly those related to workload pressures.

Mindfulness practice has been found to reduce recurrent depressive episodes (Khoury et al, 2013), improve memory (Coffey et al, 2010) and reduce stress (Pascoe et al 2017). It can also help students cope with university life (Barnes et al, 2017). It has been described as being able to give uninterrupted attention to any task, including conversation, without judgement or criticism (Kabat-Zinn, 2003; Brown et al, 2007). It is concerned with developing non-judgemental awareness. A common approach is to focus on the sensations of breathing, noting every inhale and exhale, and patiently returning attention to breathing each time it wanders. This allows an internalised focus from both external and internal distractions. Deliberate focus on breathing has also been shown to increase activity in physiologically calming centres such as the parasympathetic nervous system (Tang et al, 2009).

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