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General medicine
Mindfulness for academic performance in health professions students: a systematic review


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.

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