Undergraduate medical students experience a considerable amount of stress, which can negatively affect their learning, motivation and contact with patients. Some techniques and practices for stress management and reduction, such as meditation, have been recommended and used in medical schools. This study evaluated the effects of a Stress Reduction and Empathy Development Program in Medicine (REDEMED©) on participants’ perception of stress and possible support groups.
This is a quasi-experimental trial whose sample comprised 40 students in a control group and 47 students in an intervention group. The students in the intervention group participated in eight weekly sessions lasting two hours each. The course hours were divided into: 30 minutes of theoretical content on how stress influences one’s health, 60 minutes of interpersonal practices and 30 minutes of yoga and meditation practices. Both groups, before and after the program, answered the questionnaire on perceived stress (PSS - Cohen’s scale).
After the eight weekly meetings, the intervention group showed significant improvement (p = 0.030), showing that participation in the REDEMED© course proved to be effective in stress control among the students in the study. The students were also questioned about their self-perception of whether or not they felt they were supported by any other groups. The three support groups most often referred to by the students, in both the intervention and the control group, were: friends/family, the Students’ Union and their sports team. After eight weeks, while the control group still referred to the same groups, the intervention group mentioned friends/family, REDEMED© and the Students’ Union.
This study showed that the REDEMED© program, meeting for eight weeks using meditation as its central technique, was effective in reducing the stress perceived by medical students who participated in this intervention when compared to the control group (p = 0,000). Integrative and complementary practices can be an important tool within medical schools, empowering students to better cope with the stress they are exposed to throughout the course.
Meditation; Stress; Medical Students; Medical Education; Integrative Medicine