The impact of a mindfulness bracelet on emotional affect in medical students



Background: There is concern that negative changes in emotional outlook among medical students may impair the behavior of students, diminish learning, and ultimately affect patient care. Although most medical students begin their professional education with idealism, enthusiasm, and attention to humanity, they often have difficulty balancing their happiness with social and professional responsibilities. The following study aimed to determine if a simple mindfulness reminder (in the form of a bracelet) will impact emotional affect in first-year medical students. The second aim is to better understand the changes in emotional affect as students start medical school.

Methods: First year medical students were invited to participate at the start of the academic year. Baseline survey data and demographic data were obtained prior to participants being given the mindfulness bracelet and a standardized presentation explaining its purpose. Follow-up surveys were obtained at one- and two-month intervals. Statistical analysis was based on sum score of the survey. Change of sum score over time was tested by using repeated measurement analysis.

Results: Data collection included 104 students at the initial distribution of the survey. Follow-up surveys were obtained from 78 and 69 students at the first- and second-month mark, respectively. No significant associations were detected between frequency of mindfulness bracelet usage and emotional affect. However, there was a significant decrease in positive affect over the first month of medical school (p < 0.01), followed by a significant recovery in positive affect in the second month of medical school (p < 0.01). Demographic data did not reveal statistically significant differences among demographic groups and progression of emotional affect.

Conclusions: Although the mindfulness bracelet intervention did not yield significant improvement in emotional affect, our results are consistent with other studies demonstrating that the first year of medical school negatively impacts the emotional outlook of students. Future studies are needed to explore practical interventions and to better understand and address the negative effect that early medical school education has on student’s emotional state.

Keywords: Medical students, Medical school, Mindfulness, Emotional affect, Positive affect, Stress

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