Article Text

Download PDFPDF
General medicine
Mindfulness for academic performance in health professions students: a systematic review
  1. Roshini Balasooriya Lekamge,
  2. Danijela Gasevic,
  3. Md Nazmul Karim,
  4. Dragan Ilic
  1. Medical Education Research & Quality (MERQ) Unit, School of Public Health & Preventive Medicine, Monash University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Professor Dragan Ilic, Medical Education Research & Quality (MERQ) unit, School of Public Health & Preventive Medicine, Monash University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia; dragan.ilic{at}


Objectives To systematically review the impact of mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) on the academic performance of undergraduate medicine, nursing and allied health students.

Methods Randomised controlled trials that examined the effects of MBIs in medicine, nursing and allied health students on academic performance were eligible for inclusion. Electronic database searches were conducted across Medline, Embase, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL Plus), PsycINFO and ERIC databases. Two authors independently reviewed citations, extracted data and assessed the quality of evidence using the Cochrane Collaboration’s risk of bias tool. A descriptive analysis of included studies and a meta-analysis using a random-effects model of standardised mean difference were performed.

Results A total of 267 studies were returned from the search, of which 2 met the inclusion criteria. The overall risk of bias was assessed as unclear risk of bias for one study and high risk of bias for second included study. A meta-analysis of MBIs on student academic performance as measured by marks in written examination indicated no statistical difference between interventions (Standardised Mean Difference (SMD)=0.43, 95% CI −1.77 to 2.62, I2=96%).

Discussion Our systematic review highlights a lack of evidence to either support, or refute, the use of mindfulness interventions on the academic performance of undergraduate medical students. We encourage that future randomised controlled trials pay heed to the dosing of mindfulness and include a measurement of mindfulness to enable us to draw a clearer causal relationship.


Data availability statement

Data are available upon reasonable request.

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.

Data availability statement

Data are available upon reasonable request.

View Full Text


  • Contributors RBL and DI conducted the search, screened articles and extracted data. RBL, DI and DG conducted the risk of bias assessment. RBL, DI and MNK conducted the data analysis. All authors interpreted the data and wrote the manuscript.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient and public involvement Patients and/or the public were not involved in the design, or conduct, or reporting, or dissemination plans of this research.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Supplemental material This content has been supplied by the author(s). It has not been vetted by BMJ Publishing Group Limited (BMJ) and may not have been peer-reviewed. Any opinions or recommendations discussed are solely those of the author(s) and are not endorsed by BMJ. BMJ disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on the content. Where the content includes any translated material, BMJ does not warrant the accuracy and reliability of the translations (including but not limited to local regulations, clinical guidelines, terminology, drug names and drug dosages), and is not responsible for any error and/or omissions arising from translation and adaptation or otherwise.