Mindfulness practice correlates with reduced exam-induced stress and improved exam performance in preclinical medical students with the “acting with awareness”, “non-judging” and “non-reacting” facets of mindfulness particularly associated with improved exam performance


Abstract: Background: Medical students demonstrate higher levels of psychological distress compared with the general population and other student groups, especially at exam times. Mindfulness interventions show promise in stress reduction for this group, and in the reduction of cortisol, an established clinical marker of the body’s stress response. This study investigated the relationship of mindfulness to exam-induced stress, salivary cortisol and exam performance in undergraduate medical students. Methods: A controlled pre-post analysis design with within-groups comparisons. 67 medical students completed the five facet mindfulness questionnaire (FFMQ) and provided saliva samples, from which cortisol was extracted, during group work (control/baseline) and immediately prior to end of year 2 examinations (experimental). Academic performance data was extracted for comparison with measures. Results: Exam-induced salivary cortisol concentration showed a significant negative relation with exam performance. Total FFMQ score showed a significant positive relation with exam performance and a significant negative relation with exam-induced salivary cortisol. The specific mindfulness facets of acting with awareness, non-judging and non-reacting also showed a positive correlation with exam performance. Conclusions: This study suggests that there exists an important relationship between mindfulness and the physiological biomarker of stress, cortisol, and this manifests into improved assessment outcomes potentially through healthier, more adaptive coping and stress management strategies. In particular, this study identifies the acting with awareness, non-judging and non-reacting facets of mindfulness to be significantly associated with exam performance suggesting that these may be important facets for clinical educators to target when helping students with mindfulness practice.

Publication DOI: https://doi.org/10.1186/s40359-022-00754-3
Divisions: College of Health & Life Sciences > Aston Medical School
Additional Information: © The Author(s) 2022. Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated in a credit line to the data.
Uncontrolled Keywords: Research,Medicine,Medical school,Meditation
Publication ISSN: 2050-7283
Last Modified: 05 Dec 2023 08:15
Date Deposited: 07 Mar 2022 12:56
Full Text Link: 10.1186/s40359-022-00754-3
Related URLs: https://bmcpsyc ... 359-022-00754-3 (Publisher URL)
PURE Output Type: Article
Published Date: 2022-02-23
Accepted Date: 2022-02-14
Submitted Date: 2021-08-12
Authors: Hearn, Jasmine Heath
Stocker, Claire J.



Version: Published Version

License: Creative Commons Attribution

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