Document Type


Publication Date

March 2003


This article has been peer-reviewed. It was published in Teaching and Learning in Medicine 15(2):88-92, Spring 2003. The published version is available at Copyright is retained by Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc.


Background: Medical students confront significant academic, psychosocial, and existential stressors throughout their training. Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) is an educational intervention designed to improve coping skills and reduce emotional distress.

Purpose: The purpose of this study was to examine the effectiveness of the MBSR intervention in a prospective, nonrandomized, cohort-controlled study.

Methods: Second-year students (n = 140) elected to participate in a 10-week MBSR seminar. Controls (n = 162) participated in a didactic seminar on complementary medicine. Profile of Mood States (POMS) was administered preintervention and postintervention.

Results: Baseline total mood disturbance (TMD) was greater in the MBSR group compared with controls (38.7 ± 33.3 vs. 28.0 ± 31.2; p < .01). Despite this initial difference, the MBSR group scored significantly lower in TMD at the completion of the intervention period (31.8 ± 33.8 vs. 38.6 ± 32.8; p < .05). Significant effects were also observed on Tension–Anxiety, Confusion–Bewilderment, Fatigue–Inertia, and Vigor–Activity subscales.

Conclusion: MBSR may be an effective stress management intervention for medical students.