The Effectiveness of Mindfulness Meditation in Second Year Doctor of Physical Therapy Students

Purpose/Hypothesis : Psychological stress occurs when an individual perceives that environmental demands exceed their capacity. The impact of stress on the immune system is linked to many illnesses, as well as impaired quality of life. Research has shown that Physical Therapy (PT) students have higher stress and anxiety levels than age and gender matched peers. Through a unique collaborative relationship, 49 second-year PT students were mentored in mindfulness meditation (MM) strategies as an initiative to minimize stress. The key concept of MM is the ability to pay purposeful attention in the present moment non-judgmentally. Past research demonstrates that as the use of MM increased, individuals' quality of life at home and work improved and stress levels and susceptibility to multiple illnesses decreased. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the level of stress associated with competency testing and the potential impact of MM in second year PT students.Number of Subjects : Forty-nine second year PT students served as the subjects in this study.Materials/Methods : A sample of convenience was employed; participants were invited to complete a survey on the impact of mindfulness inside and outside of the classroom. In addition, reflections written by each of the 49 students following competency assessments were evaluated quantitatively and qualitatively. The reflections following competency assessments were completed the semester prior to the introduction of MM and again following the instruction in MM. Reflection and survey comments were analyzed for common themes and comments to justify conclusions drawn.Results : Forty-seven of the 49 students completed the written survey. Prior to introducing MM, 63% (n=31) of the 49 students reported their performance on competency assessments was impacted by fear, anxiety, and/or stress. Sixty-two percent of subjects believed that their performance on competency assessments would be better if they employed strategies such as relaxation or meditation. Thirty-two percent (n=16) of the 49 students felt less stressed by employing MM prior to the competency. In addition 37 of the 47 survey respondents stated MM was a valuable component of the stress management unit in a course in their academic program. Forty-two of the 47 students, 89%, strongly agreed or agreed that mindfulness would be valuable for patients as part of their self-management for chronic diseases and disease prevention.Conclusions : The results of this study suggest that MM may be an effective tool for reducing stress in students during their second year of PT school. However, little evidence was found on the impact of MM on illness reduction. Further research is needed to determine if the findings are similar in other educational settings and to assess if students employ MM as a clinical intervention.Clinical Relevance : Stress and anxiety are prevalent in the PT student population and can impact their schooling. MM is an inexpensive, readily available tool that PT students can use to help relax and focus during stressful events in and out of the classroom.

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  • Control #: 2022766
  • Type: Poster
  • Event/Year: CSM2015
  • Authors: Shaina B. Sandrock, Barbara J. Billek-Sawhney, William Ryan, Carol L. Holland
  • Keywords: Mindfulness|Stress|Meditation

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