Medical students are exposed to high stress levels, triggered by having to deal with their illness and death of their patients, extensive workloads, sleep deprivation, competition, having to fulfil demanding duties, responsibility, and fear of making mistakes, among other factors. Some techniques and practices, such as meditation, are used in medical schools to help manage and reduce stress. Stress can activate components of the inflammatory system, triggering a series of pathologies. The disorders caused by stress can be measured by means of serological markers, with biological markers being the main ones used. Objective. To evaluate the effects of a program of mind-body practices, Reduction of Stress and Development of Empathy in Medicine (REDEMED ©), on pro- and anti-inflammatory markers of medical students.
This is a quasi-experimental study, composed of 86 students: 44 in the intervention group, who participated in the REDMED© program with eight-weekly meetings that included meditation techniques and exercises of interpersonal experiences, and 42 students in the control group. Before and after the course, blood was collected from both groups for analysis of the markers: C-reactive protein (CRP), tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha), interleukin-6 (IL06) and interleukin-10 (IL10).
No statistically significant changes were observed in the proinflammatory cytokines CRP, TNF-α and IL06. However, IL-10, an anti-inflammatory cytokine, showed a positive and statistically significant variation (p: 0.009). It has been used in studies with integrative and complementary practices to demonstrate its benefits.
The REDEMED© program seems to benefit medical students through inflammatory modulation and as a group that provides a forum to share their stress and receive coaching in coping strategies. This study, even though it did not find a statistically significant difference in the markers studied, with the exception of IL10, raises the important theme of the high levels of stress that medical students experience, and the need for medical schools to take greater care of their students, addressing stress in order better manage it in their own lives.
Medical education; Medical students; Stress; Inflammatory markers; Meditation