Mind-body training increases MDs' compassion
Teaching medical students about mind-body approaches could help boost their compassion, according to a study from Boston (MA) University School of Medicine.1 The study included 27 first- and second-year medical students who underwent an 11-week course. Researchers measured the study participants' self-compassion, self-regulation, self-criticism, and stress levels at the beginning and end of the study to ascertain differences in each. Participants had improved self-compassion, slight decreases in stress, and increases in empathy.
"We were pleased, but not surprised, to find that a mind-body practice boosted self-regulation and self-compassion. Related activities, such as mindfulness-based stress reduction, have been found to have similar effects," says Allison R. Bond, the study's lead author and a third-year medical student at Boston University.
Physicians and medical students who take time to recharge their minds and bodies are more apt to be empathetic and thus perhaps more ethical physicians, says Bond.
"It can seem selfish, or even unethical, for health care providers and students to set aside time for self-care," she says. "However, our research indicates that doing so may yield great returns by helping physicians and medical students be more effective, compassionate providers for their patients."
1. Bond AR, Mason HF, Lemaster CM, et al. Embodied health: The effects of a mindbody course for medical students. Med Educ Online. 2013; 18: doi: 10.3402/meo.v18i0.20699.
• Allison R. Bond, Boston (MA) University School of Medicine. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.