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The impact of a brief embedded mindfulness-based program for veterinary students

Correia, H.M.ORCID: 0000-0003-2717-2294, Smith, A.D., Murray, S., Polak, L.S., Williams, B. and Cake, M.A.ORCID: 0000-0002-0072-9024 (2017) The impact of a brief embedded mindfulness-based program for veterinary students. Journal of Veterinary Medical Education, 44 (1). pp. 125-133.

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Veterinary medical students, like other university students, are likely to experience elevated levels of stress, anxiety, and depression over the course of their studies. Mindfulness-based interventions have previously been effective for university students in reducing stress, depression, and anxiety. In this study, a mindfulness-based intervention was embedded in a core (compulsory) unit of a veterinary science course, in part with the aim of improving student well-being. Preliminary results suggest that, despite the mindfulness intervention, overall symptoms of stress, depression, and anxiety among participants (n=64) increased between the start and end of the semester. However, further analysis showed that most of this longitudinal increase was attributable to individuals who scored above the normal range (i.e., at least mild level of symptoms) in one or more measures at the beginning of the semester. Within this subset, individuals who regularly engaged in mindfulness practice once a week or more throughout the semester reported significantly lower depression and anxiety symptoms than those who practiced less than once a week (i.e., who had long periods without practice). Results suggest that engaging regularly in mindfulness practice potentially acted as a protective factor for students already experiencing at least a mild range of symptoms of anxiety and depression at the beginning of the semester. While not all veterinary students may derive significant benefit immediately, providing access to an embedded mindfulness program early in their program may facilitate the development of adaptive coping mechanisms, which may be engaged to increase resilience across their academic and professional life.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Veterinary and Life Sciences
Publisher: University of Toronto Press
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