Background: Mindfulness is a technique for training people to pay full attention and to fully accept the reality of what they are paying attention to. The clinical efficacy of mindfulness has been increasingly demonstrated during the last two decades. Very little research, however, has been undertaken on health professionals' and students of health professions' knowledge of and attitudes towards mindfulness. These may affect the current and future level of use of a technique that offers important clinical advantages. Objectives: We aimed to compare knowledge of and attitudes towards mindfulness of medical students without exposure to it in their training with psychology students without exposure and with medical students with exposure to mindfulness in their training. Methods: A total of 91 medical students from Monash University, 49 medical students from Deakin University, and 31 psychology students from Deakin University were given a questionnaire that elicited quantitative and qualitative responses about level of knowledge of mindfulness and willingness to administer or recommend it to their future patients. Results: Psychology students without exposure to mindfulness in their training have a greater knowledge of it and are more likely to administer it or recommend it than are medical students without exposure to it in their training. Medical students with exposure to mindfulness in their course have a greater knowledge of it and are more likely to administer it or recommend it than are medical students without exposure. Knowledge of mindfulness is positively correlated with students' willingness to use or recommend it. Conclusions: Possible implications of the findings of this study are that if future doctors are routinely instructed in mindfulness as a clinical intervention they may be more likely to form a more positive attitude towards it, that is more consistent with that of nonmedical health professions such as psychologists, and that they therefore may be more likely to administer it or refer its use. The inclusion of mindfulness exposure in medical courses, and possibly also in psychology courses, may help mindfulness fulfill its clinical potential, and increasingly benefit patients who are suffering from a range of clinical conditions.
- medical students
- psychology students