The effects of mindfulness-based interventions for health and social care undergraduate students

Health and social care undergraduate students experience stress due to high workloads and pressure to perform | Psychology, Health & Medicine

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Consequences include depression and burnout. Mindfulness may be a suitable way to reduce stress in health and social care degree courses. The objective of this systematic review is to identify and critically appraise the literature on the effects of Mindfulness-Based Interventions for health and social care undergraduate students.

PubMed, EMBASE, Psych Info, CINAHL, The Cochrane Library and Academic Search Complete were searched from inception to 21st November 2016. Studies that delivered Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy, or an intervention modelled closely on these, to health or social care undergraduate students were included. Eleven studies, representing medicine, nursing and psychology students met the inclusion criteria. The most commonly used measurement tools were; the Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire and the General Health Questionnaire.

Short term benefits relating to stress and mood were reported, despite all but one study condensing the curriculum. Gender and personality emerged as factors likely to affect intervention results. Further research with long-term follow-up is required to definitively conclude that mindfulness is an appropriate intervention to mentally prepare health and social care undergraduate students for their future careers.

Full reference: O’Driscoll, M. et al. (2017) The effects of mindfulness-based interventions for health and social care undergraduate students – a systematic review of the literature. Psychology, Health & Medicine. Vol. 22 (Issue 7) pp. 851-865

A head start with mindfulness

Don’t dismiss the meditation technique as a fad: its well documented benefits for those in demanding careers make a strong case for teaching it at university, says Craig Hassed | Times Higher Education

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Mindfulness is a hot topic these days, but its potential importance to higher education has not yet been broadly recognised. It can be described as a form of meditation and a way of living. It is a mental discipline that involves not only sharpening present-moment attention but also cultivating the attitude with which we pay attention: one of curiosity, acceptance, openness and compassion.

Mindfulness is easily marginalised by hard-nosed academic disciplines, and its mischaracterisation as a mere relaxation exercise means that its utility is commonly overlooked in the training of professionals such as doctors, lawyers and chief executives. Yet mounting evidence since the turn of the millennium is becoming increasingly difficult to ignore.

The tidal wave began with studies into the effectiveness of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) in preventing the recurrence of depression. Subsequently, many further applications have been documented, including combating addictions, chronic pain and infertility.

Indeed, some see mindfulness as a panacea. The reality, though, is probably more complex. Like physical exercise, cultivating awareness is a basic human need, but not everyone will be ready to learn about it or want to do it. Mindfulness demands application and perseverance and is sometimes uncomfortable.

As well as improving their attention, mindfulness has many other benefits for future professionals. For example, a 2004 Australian study tracked the mental health of medical interns throughout their first year of working life. It found that 75 per cent had burnout by the eighth month, and 73 per cent had a diagnosable mental illness (mostly depression and/or anxiety) at least once. Furthermore, a British Medical Journal study in 2008 found that a doctor with depression makes more than six times as many medication and prescribing errors as a doctor without. Considering that medical errors are the third most common cause of death in the US, this points to a major deficiency in our training of professionals destined for demanding jobs. It can’t just be about transferring technical skills and knowledge; enhancing practitioners’ mental health and preventing errors should be seen as aligned objectives.

Read the full news story here

School-Based Mindfulness Program and Depression in Adolescents

This study examined moderators of the effects of a universal school-based mindfulness program on adolescents’ depressive symptoms.

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Based on theory and previous research, we identified the following potential moderators:

  1. severity of symptoms of depression at baseline
  2. gender
  3. age
  4. school track.

The study uses a pooled dataset from two consecutive randomized controlled trials in adolescents (13–18 years) in secondary schools in Belgium.

We found no moderation effects of gender, age, and school track. Six months after the training, we found a marginally significant moderation effect for severity of symptoms of depression at baseline with greater decrease in symptoms for students with high levels of depression. The general absence of differential intervention effects for gender, age, and school track supports the broad scope of the school-based mindfulness group intervention.

Full reference: der Gucht, K.V. et al. (2017) Potential Moderators of the Effects of a School-Based Mindfulness Program on Symptoms of Depression in Adolescents. Mindfulness. 8(797)

Mindfulness-Based Intervention for Parents of Children with Autism

Parents of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) frequently report poor psychological well-being.

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The purpose of this study was to examine the effectiveness of brief mindfulness-based intervention (MBI) on perceived stress, anxiety, and depression among parents of children with ASD in Jordan.

After the intervention program, the one-way analyses of covariance (ANCOVA) indicated that parents in the intervention group had better outcomes on the measures of psychological well-being and mindfulness than those in the comparison group (P < 0.01). Furthermore, results of paired samples t test indicated that parents in the intervention group demonstrated significant improvements in measures of stress, anxiety, depression, and mindfulness scores with medium to large effect size (Cohen d between 0.42 and 0.85, P < 0.01).

Although the comparison group demonstrated small improvement in measures of the dependent variables, these improvements were much less than improvements in the intervention group. The MBIs are culturally adaptable, feasible, and effective interventions to improve psychological well-being in parents of children with ASD.

Full reference: Rayan, A. & Ahmad, M. (2017) Effectiveness of Mindfulness-Based Intervention on Perceived Stress, Anxiety, and Depression Among Parents of Children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Mindfulness. 8(677)

 

The effect of mindfulness group therapy on a broad range of psychiatric symptoms

Sundquist, J. et al. (2017) European Psychiatry. 43(6) pp. 19-27

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Background: The need for psychotherapy in primary health care is on the increase but individual-based treatment is costly. The main aim of this randomised controlled trial (RCT) was to compare the effect of mindfulness-based group therapy (MGT) with treatment as usual (TAU), mainly individual-based cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT), on a broad range of psychiatric symptoms in primary care patients diagnosed with depressive, anxiety and/or stress and adjustment disorders. An additional aim was to compare the effect of MGT with TAU on mindful attention awareness.

 

Conclusions: No significant differences between MGT and TAU, mainly individual-based CBT, were found in treatment effect. Both types of therapies could be used in primary care patients with depressive, anxiety and/or stress and adjustment disorders, where MGT has a potential to save limited resources.

Read the abstract here

Improvement of mindfulness skills predicts long-term reductions of neuroticism

Spinhoven, P. et al. (2017) Journal of Affective Disorders.  213(4) pp. 112–117

Highlights:

  • Following MBCT, participants manifested significant improvements in mindfulness skills.
  • At 15-month follow-up, participants showed lower levels of neuroticism.
  • At follow-up, participants also showed higher levels of extraversion and conscientiousness.
  • Improvements in mindfulness skills predicted subsequent changes in personality traits.
  • The mindfulness facets of describing and acting with awareness were most predictive.

Read the full abstract here

Mindfulness training can reduce depression and anxiety among nurses

Hunter, L. (2017) BMJ Evidence-based Nursing. 20(2)

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Commentary on:

Implications for practice and research:

  • Mindfulness can help relieve symptoms of depression and anxiety among nurses and may improve patient care.

  • There is a need for future quantitative studies to measure the nurse-perceived benefits of mindfulness identified in qualitative research.

  • Mixed-methods reviews can help develop a more complete and clinically relevant understanding of a given topic.

Read the full commentary here

Read the original research article here