A pilot mindfulness training program delivered online for medical students at the WA Rural Clinical School and funded by the Lishman Health Foundation is showing positive results around the reduction of students’ stress levels and increased self-compassion levels. The pilot program led by Dr Sarah Moore and a team of researchers aimed to determine the feasibility and effectiveness of an eight-week online training program delivered to third year medical students from the University of Western Australia and Notre Dame University in 2016.
Using quantitative-qualitative mixed-methods approach, the team measured the frequency and duration of the participants’ mindfulness meditation practice, and assessed changes in their perceived stress, self-compassion and compassion levels, as well as personal and professional attitudes and behaviours.
A total of 47 students were recruited to the study. Fifty per cent of participants were practising at least weekly by the end of the eight-week program, and 32 per cent of students reported practising at least weekly four months following the intervention. There was a statistically significant increase in self-compassion at four month follow up.
The results provide preliminary evidence that online training in mindfulness meditation can be associated with reduced stress and increased self-compassion in rural medical students. More rigorous research is required to establish concrete measures of feasibility of a mindfulness meditation program.