Nav: Home

For busy medical students, two-hour meditation study may be as beneficial as longer course

April 15, 2019

For time-crunched medical students, taking a two-hour introductory class on mindfulness may be just as beneficial for reducing stress and depression as taking an eight-week meditation course, a Rutgers study finds.

The study, conducted by researchers at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, is published in the journal Medical Science Educator. The researchers say many medical students would like to use meditation to avoid burnout and provide better medical care, but are daunted by the prospect of making time for a daily meditation routine.

"What we found should encourage even the busiest medical students and physicians," said lead author Periel Shapiro, an MD candidate at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. "There are shorter, sustainable ways to bring meditation into your life, and they can help you reduce stress and depression and improve your medical study and practice."

Mindfulness is defined as maintaining nonjudgmental awareness of the present moment, and continuously returning to that awareness when pulled away by distraction. Mindfulness practices are believed to have physiological and psychological benefits resulting in reducing the mind's negative focus on feelings of distress and increasing the body's ability to relax.

Studies have shown that medical students are at disproportionately high risk for depression and anxiety, and that mindfulness can help them develop coping mechanisms to reduce these feelings. Previous studies have also shown, however, that medical students often drop out of meditation courses because of a perceived lack of time and other support.

The Rutgers practitioners found that there has been a lack of research into identifying meditation methods that may be most accessible to busy medical students and physicians. For their study, they assigned random groups of medical students to a two-hour introductory course or a full eight-week course on mediation. Those who took the eight-week course became more familiar with mindfulness techniques and felt more comfortable recommending mindfulness to patients.

Both groups described benefits in reducing their feelings of stress and depression - and many students viewed mindfulness as a safe alternative to treating those feelings with medication. Many students also described mindfulness as providing a deeper sense of happiness and fulfillment.

The findings suggest that the full eight-week course is helpful in promoting greater awareness of how to practice mindfulness in everyday life and that the brief introductory course is an effective and efficient way to help students begin practicing mindfulness and experiencing its benefits. The authors said the study can help guide medical schools to introduce mindfulness courses or fine-tune them in ways that will benefit students.
-end-
Robert Lebeau, an assistant professor at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and director of the school's Cognitive Skills Program, and Anthony Tobia, an assistant professor of psychiatry at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, also participated in the study.

Rutgers University

Related Depression Articles:

Tackling depression by changing the way you think
A thought is a thought. It does not reflect reality.
How depression can muddle thinking
Depression is associated with sadness, fatigue and a lack of motivation.
Neuroimaging categorizes 4 depression subtypes
Patients with depression can be categorized into four unique subtypes defined by distinct patterns of abnormal connectivity in the brain, according to new research from Weill Cornell Medicine.
Studies suggest inflammatory cytokines are associated with depression and psychosis, and that anti-cytokine treatment can reduce depression symptoms
Studies presented at this year's International Early Psychosis Association meeting in Milan, Italy, (Oct.
Is depression in parents, grandparents linked to grandchildren's depression?
Having both parents and grandparents with major depressive disorder was associated with higher risk of MDD for grandchildren, which could help identify those who may benefit from early intervention, according to a study published online by JAMA Psychiatry.
More Depression News and Depression Current Events

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Erasing The Stigma
Many of us either cope with mental illness or know someone who does. But we still have a hard time talking about it. This hour, TED speakers explore ways to push past — and even erase — the stigma. Guests include musician and comedian Jordan Raskopoulos, neuroscientist and psychiatrist Thomas Insel, psychiatrist Dixon Chibanda, anxiety and depression researcher Olivia Remes, and entrepreneur Sangu Delle.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#537 Science Journalism, Hold the Hype
Everyone's seen a piece of science getting over-exaggerated in the media. Most people would be quick to blame journalists and big media for getting in wrong. In many cases, you'd be right. But there's other sources of hype in science journalism. and one of them can be found in the humble, and little-known press release. We're talking with Chris Chambers about doing science about science journalism, and where the hype creeps in. Related links: The association between exaggeration in health related science news and academic press releases: retrospective observational study Claims of causality in health news: a randomised trial This...