High rates of depression, anxiety and stress are reported in tertiary health students. Mindfulness-based programs have been included in the training of health students to help them manage depression, anxiety and stress; however, to date, there has been no review of best practice implementation of mindfulness for health students. The aim of this review was to evaluate the outcomes of mindfulness-based practice for health students to inform best practice with this population.
A comprehensive search was conducted of three electronic databases (PsychINFO, Medline and Embase) guided by the five-step systematic process for conducting scoping reviews to investigate mindfulness-based intervention programs for students enrolled in a tertiary institution in a health-related course.
Twenty-four papers met the eligibility criteria and were reviewed in detail. Findings suggested that mindfulness-based intervention approaches are useful in decreasing depression, anxiety and stress in health students; however, challenges exist in student engagement and retention. Generalization of results was limited by the heterogeneous population, intervention designs and delivery methods, as well as a lack of standardized outcome measures.
The inclusion of mindfulness-based programs within tertiary curricula can be an effective approach to assist with managing depression, stress and anxiety in health students. Providing academic credit to students, improving translation of skills to working with future clients, and embedding mindfulness-based programs within the curriculum could improve engagement and retention.