A pilot study of a longitudinal mindfulness curriculum in undergraduate medical education

  • Heather MacLean The University of Ottawa
  • Emelie Braschi University of Ottawa
  • Douglas Archibald University of Ottawa
  • Millaray Sanchez-Campos University of Ottawa
  • Danusha Jebanesan University of Ottawa
  • Diana Koszycki University of Ottawa
  • Carol Gonsalves University of Ottawa


Background: To support student well-being, a mindfulness curriculum in undergraduate medical education was launched at our university in 2014. We describe the program and report 3-year results.

Methods: Medical students responded to online questionnaires on mindfulness (Freiburg Mindfulness Inventory), empathy (Jefferson Scale of Physician Empathy), resilience (Connor-Davidson Resilience Scale) and perceived stress (Perceived Stress Scale) and were surveyed for demographics, home practice, and subjective experience at curriculum launch and yearly for 3 years.

Results: In respondents, high stress (19.2 (SD=6)) and low resilience (71.2 (SD=12.5)) scores were seen throughout training. Scores for mindfulness correlated positively with those for empathy (r=.217 p<0.01) and resilience (r=.539, p<0.01), and negatively with stress scores (r=-.380, p<0.01). While overall scale scores did not statistically change after curriculum implementation, statistically significant increases were seen in mindfulness (12%, p=0.008), empathy (5%, p=0.045), and resilience scores (12%, p=0.002) with a trend toward lower stress scores (8%, p=0.080) in respondents who felt they applied the curriculum principles. Two hours of reported home practice per week was associated with statistically significant changes (14% increased mindfulness scores p<0.001; 6% increased empathy scores p<0.001, 10% increased resilience scores p=0.003; 11% decreased stress scores p= 0.008). Despite positive program evaluations for both mandatory and elective sessions, student attendance at elective sessions was low.

Conclusion: A mindfulness curriculum integrated into formal undergraduate medical education is feasible. Benefits may be confined to those students who apply curriculum principles and practice regularly. Further study is needed.

How to Cite
MacLean, H., Braschi, E., Archibald, D., Sanchez-Campos, M., Jebanesan, D., Koszycki, D., & Gonsalves, C. (2020). A pilot study of a longitudinal mindfulness curriculum in undergraduate medical education . Canadian Medical Education Journal, 11(4), e5-e18. https://doi.org/10.36834/cmej.56726
Major Contributions