Formal Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) training is a feasible and acceptable method to combat stress and burnout experienced by medical interns, according to a study published in JAMA Surgery. Many surgical interns continued to practice both formal and informal mindfulness skills after course completion, as they were personally and professionally useful.

Study investigators systematically examined the feasibility and acceptability of integrating formal MBSR training into surgical internship through a randomized, controlled pilot study.

The study cohort included 21 surgical interns from a residency training program at a tertiary academic medical center who were randomly assigned to participate in a modified MBSR training program (n=12) or a control group (n=9). Interventions were comprised of weekly 2-hour protected class time and 20 minutes of suggested daily home practice over the course of 8 weeks. Feasibility outcomes focused on 6 domains (demand, implementation, practicality, acceptability, adaptation, and integration). Each domain was assessed via focus groups, interviews, surveys, self-report of experience, attendance, and daily practice time.

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Results showed that formal MBSR training was feasible during surgical internship, as evidenced by the reasonable cost of the program, high attendance, course satisfaction, rate of home practice, and degree of integration by participants. Satisfaction was demonstrated through high attendance and committed daily practice, along with reports of subjective satisfaction. Although perceived post training credibility was not significantly different between the 2 groups, there was a higher expectation of efficacy among the intervention group. The most compelling finding was that mindfulness skills were effectively integrated into surgical training, and several participants continued independent use of both formal and informal skills during the 12-month follow-up period. Participation in mindfulness training had no detrimental effect on the interns’ surgical training or patient care.

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One limitation of the study was that the small sample population was drawn from a single institution with unique resources. Further studies are needed to compare the efficacy of formal training with other intervention formats (apps and e-learning) and to expand mindfulness training to other specialties.

The efficacy of formal mindfulness-based interventions remains to be proven; however, the feasibility and acceptability of such programs have been established as a necessary foundation for future studies.

This study was supported by a National Institutes of Health grant, Short Term Research Education Program to Increase Diversity in Health-Related Research.


Lebares CC, Hershberger AO, Guvva EV, et al. Feasibility of formal mindfulness-based stress-resilience training among surgery interns: a randomized clinical trial [published online August 29, 2018]. JAMA Surg. doi: 10.1001/jamasurg.2018.2734.