An adapted, four-week mind-body skills group for medical students: Reducing stress, increasing mindfulness, and enhancing self-care

Jeffrey M. Greeson, Michael J. Toohey, Michelle J. Pearce

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Objective Despite the well-known stress of medical school, including adverse consequences for mental and behavioral health, there is little consensus about how to best intervene in a way that accommodates students intense training demands, interest in science, and desire to avoid being stigmatized. The objective of this study, therefore, was to evaluate the feasibility, acceptability, and initial effectiveness of an adapted, four-week stress management and self-care workshop for medical students, which was based on the science and practice of mind-body medicine. Methods The current study used a prospective, observational, and mixed methods design, with pretest and posttest evaluations. Participants (n = 44) included medical and physician-scientist (MD/PhD) students from a large, southeastern medical school. Feasibility was assessed by rates of workshop enrollment and completion. Acceptability was assessed using qualitative ratings and open-ended responses that queried perceived value of the workshop. Quantitative outcomes included students ratings of stress and mindfulness using validated self-report surveys. Results Enrollment progressively increased from 6 to 15 to 23 students per workshop in 2007, 2009, and 2011, respectively. Of the 44 enrolled students, 36 (82%) completed the workshop, indicating that the four-session extracurricular format was feasible for most students. Students reported that the workshop was acceptable, stating that it helped them cope more skillfully with the stress and emotional challenges of medical school, and helped increase self-care behaviors, such as exercise, sleep, and engaging in social support. Students also reported a 32% decrease in perceived stress (P <.001; d = 1.38) and a 16% increase in mindfulness (P <.001; d = 0.92) following the workshop. Changes in stress and mindfulness were significantly correlated (r = -0.42; P =.01). Conclusion Together, these findings suggest that a brief, voluntary mind-body skills workshop specifically adapted for medical students is feasible, acceptable, and effective for reducing stress, increasing mindfulness, and enhancing student self-care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)186-192
Number of pages7
JournalExplore: The Journal of Science and Healing
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 1 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Nursing(all)
  • Analysis
  • Chiropractics
  • Complementary and alternative medicine

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