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 Table of Contents  
ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year : 2015  |  Volume : 1  |  Issue : 4  |  Page : 293-297

Role of mindfulness training on psychological capital of Isfahan University of Medical Sciences students


1 PhD Student of Health Management in Disasters, Social Determinants of Health Research Center, Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, Isfahan, Iran
2 Consultation of Center, Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, Isfahan, Iran

Date of Web Publication31-Aug-2015

Correspondence Address:
Rahele Samouei
PhD Student of Health Management in Disasters, Social Determinants of Health Research Center, Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, Isfahan
Iran
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Source of Support: Nil., Conflict of Interest: There are no conflicts of interest.


DOI: 10.4103/2395-2296.163936

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  Abstract 

Introduction: Given the novel and applied nature of mindfulness techniques and due to the importance of psychological capital on the lives of students, this study aims to investigate the role of mindfulness education on psychological capital of students of Isfahan University of Medical Sciences. Methods: This study uses semi-empirical method with pretest and posttest to study two groups of students of Isfahan University of Medical Sciences with the help of five-factor mindfulness questionnaire and psychological capital questionnaire with acceptable validity and reliability in eight sessions. The results were gathered after three months and analyzed using student's t-test. Result: The results of comparison between the average posttest score of test and control groups showed no significant difference between the two groups. Conclusions: Given the fact that the effectiveness of these types of interventions has been confirmed by various studies, by controlling executive limitations before educational interventions, it is possible to achieve better results.

Keywords: Isfahan University of Medical Sciences, mindfulness, psychological capital


How to cite this article:
Samouei R, Ghasemi F. Role of mindfulness training on psychological capital of Isfahan University of Medical Sciences students. Int J Educ Psychol Res 2015;1:293-7

How to cite this URL:
Samouei R, Ghasemi F. Role of mindfulness training on psychological capital of Isfahan University of Medical Sciences students. Int J Educ Psychol Res [serial online] 2015 [cited 2017 Nov 22];1:293-7. Available from: http://www.ijeprjournal.org/text.asp?2015/1/4/293/163936


  Introduction Top


Interventions based on mindfulness are among the third generation or third wave cognitive-behavioral treatment methods and include a form of meditation which has its roots in eastern religions especially Buddhism.

Mindfulness is an active mental process in which attention and awareness of emotions, thoughts, excitements, and actions at every moment are thought.[1]

Teaching mindfulness results in a different attitude and relation with work, emotions, and feelings, which involves retaining concentration at every moment and having an accepting and nonjudgmental attitude. Using mindfulness exercises and techniques, people can become more aware of their daily activities, automatic utilization of mind in past, present, and future and their emotional and physical states, and have better control over these factors.[2],[3] Therefore, mindfulness is an effective and strong method for reducing mental pressures.[4]

Studies show that positive feelings, optimism, and self-esteem have a positive relation with conscious attention to the present while it can reduce negative emotions, violent actions, mental rumination, and social anxiety. Lack or excess worrying about past or future, consciousness about emotional excitements, optimal activity of short-term memory in tracking present happenings, ability to concentrate on current actions, and better performance in daily activities are other results of conscious attention to the present and can have important effects on improving one's ability in dealing with daily activities and problems.[5]

Teaching the concept that students need concentration, memory capacity, and maximum productivity during their studies is of paramount importance because these factors affect physiological capital which is a concept that relates to the healthy and positive aspects of a person's life.

Psychological capital is an optimistic, growing, structured, complex, and continuous psychological state, which leads to many traits such as self-sufficiency, having the necessary self-esteem and trying for success in challenging problems, optimism, creating positive ways for success in present and future, persistence in pursuing goals and understanding the necessity of changing the method for reaching these goals, resilience, endurance, and ability to return to the starting point when dealing with difficult problems and challenges.[6],[7]

Given the importance of positive psychology and psychological capital in success and mental health of individuals, understanding the factors affecting and improving psychological capital is of great importance. In this regard, mindfulness is a novel method for forming and improving psychological characteristics of individuals, and many studies investigate the effects of mindfulness on people.

The results of a study by Tizdel et al. (2000) in a 1-year period showed the effects of mindfulness based on cognitive therapy on reducing depression and other psychological factors.[8] Warren Brown and Ryan (2003) in a study, called "Mindfulness and its role on psychological capital," reported that mindfulness precedes self-management behaviors and positive excitement states.[5] Schulman (2004) had students of University of Pennsylvania to undergo teachings based on mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) in order to prevent stress and depression. After a 1-year period, the results showed that these teachings had meaningfully reduced stress, anxiety, depression, and other negative attitudes.[9]

Schoner and Lawlor (2010) in their study of 246 preteen students discovered that teaching mindfulness can meaningfully improve optimism and self-concept in the participants.[10] James and Miller (2011) conducted a study on 57 HIV patients and reported that mindfulness is related to self-efficacy in all factors.[11] In another study, Felton et al. (2013) studied counseling students and reported that teaching mindfulness is effective in increasing self-confidence and reducing stress, and self-pity in the participants.[12] Kuyken et al. (2013) in their study on 522 teenagers between ages 12 and 16 reported that in a 3 months follow-up period, teaching mindfulness can meaningfully increase the psychological welfare of the participants while decreasing stress.[13]

Kavyani et al. (2006) in their study and after a 3 months follow-up period reported that MBCT is effective in decreasing negative automatic thoughts, dysfunctional attitude, depression, and anxiety.[9] In another study by Azargoon et al. (2008) on students of University of Isfahan, they reported a meaningful decrease in mental rumination and depression of students after teaching mindfulness.[14] Abdi et al. (2009) in their study investigated the relation between personal and psychological characteristics and conscious attention to the present in students. According to their findings, there were meaningful relations between conscious attention to the present and personality characteristics of psychosis, physical components of general health, anxiety and insomnia, defects in social functioning, and depression.[15] In a study by Beirami and Abdi (2010) titled "Investigating the effect of teaching mindfulness-based techniques in reducing exam anxiety in students," the results showed that group mindfulness sessions can lead to remarkable reduction in exam anxiety in students.[16] In another study, Esfahani et al. (2010) reported that MBCT leads to meaningful reduction of suicidal thoughts in depression patients and that these results are persistent in two 3 months follow-up periods.[17] Azargoon and Kajbaf (2011) in their study reported that teaching mindfulness is effective in decreasing dysfunctional attitude and automatic thoughts in students with depression.[18] Hashemi Nosratabad et al. (2011) in their study investigated the effects of psychological capital on mental welfare and their results showed that people with higher psychological and social capital have better mental welfare.[19] Nissi and Rahimi (2011) investigated the relation between psychological capital and positive emotions, mental welfare, job performance, and job commitment. Their findings showed that the proposed pattern fits the empirical data.[7] Bahadori Khosroshahi et al. (2012) in their study discovered that psychological capital and its components can meaningfully predict changes in psychological welfare.[20] Golpour Chamankoohi et al. (2012) in their study reported that stress reduction method based on mindfulness is effective in improving mindfulness and assertiveness, and decreasing exam anxiety.[21] Ahmadvand et al. (2012) in a study reported that mindfulness is a powerful predictor for mental welfare.[22] Also, Yousefian and Asgharipour (2013) reported that both group therapy based on mindfulness and cognitive-behavioral therapy are effective in increasing self-esteem.[23]

Given the fact that compared to the past, today's students live in a more competitive environment with more challenges and pressures and due to the importance of students as future working force of the society, it is important to understand the factors affecting psychological capital of these students in order to improve their resilience under pressure and accountability. Therefore, this study aimed to investigate the effects of teaching mindfulness on psychological capital of students of Isfahan University of Medical Sciences.


  Methods Top


Study type

This is a semi-empirical study using pretest, posttest, and control group conducted on students of Isfahan University of Medical Sciences (Department of Management and Medical Informatics and Department of Rehabilitation Sciences) in the year 2013.

The statistical population of the study consisted of all the students of Department of Management and Medical Informatics and Department of Rehabilitation Sciences; due to differences in class schedule and educational program of the students, it was not possible to use simple sampling method or to determine a fixed time when all students can participate in eight study sessions. Therefore, cluster sampling method was employed by simultaneous selection of five groups of students from two departments to four majors whom were then randomly divided to study and control groups.

Data gathering was carried out using five-factor mindfulness questionnaire (FFMQ) and psychological capital questionnaire (PCQ).

The FFMQ was normalized in 2004 by Bauer. This questionnaire contains 39 questions and five-factor including describing feelings and happenings with words, attention to internal emotions and external phenomena, doing works and activities with awareness, acceptance without judgment, and lack or reaction to internal experiences. The total score of this questionnaire is the sum of all scores. The α coefficient for factors of observation, description, acting with awareness, and acceptance without judgment was 0.91%, 0.84%, 0.76%, and 0.87%, respectively. The reliability retest scores for observation, description, and acting with awareness and acceptance without judgment were calculated to be 0.65%, 0.81%, 0.86%, and 0.83%, respectively. The questionnaire also had acceptable reliability and validity.[9]

The PCQ was designed by Luthans and contains 24 questions and four factors of hope, resilience, optimism, and self-efficiency. The reliability and validity of these factors are confirmed. Chi-square test score of these two tests is 24.6 and statistical values of Comparative Fit Index and Root Mean Squared Error of Approximation were calculated to be 0.97 and 0.08, respectively. The reliability of the questionnaire was determined using Cronbach's Alpha, which was calculated to be 0.85.

In this study, five study groups were selected from majors of audiology, speech therapy, orthopedics, physiotherapy, healthcare management, and medical librarianship. All groups underwent the pretest and then received related teachings in eight sessions. These teachings included discussions, group activities, role playing, individual tasks, group tasks, and homework. In the control group, only brochures about scientific information unrelated to psychology were distributed in order to benefit those in the control group from the study process. Three months after the last session, posttest was conducted. Teaching sessions were carried out by a psychology lecturer.

The guidelines for teaching sessions were arranged using a pamphlet titled "Guide for teaching basic mindfulness skills." The teaching sessions consisted of 8, 2 h long sessions which were held once or twice every week. In these sessions, participants learnt different methods for connecting with their bodies, thoughts and emotions and how to concentrate on tasks and accept their bodies and emotions without judgment.

Each session was started with a brief description about mindfulness and the importance of living in the present. The techniques thought in these sessions included muscle relaxation during sessions, concentrating on present, experiencing inside and outside, thought faulting, recording 3 min of thoughts, mindful breathing, mindful diet, and mindfulness during mindful activities. At the end of the each session, homework related to the covered techniques was assigned.

Data analysis was carried out using SPSS-18 software (SPSS Inc. Released 2009. PASW Statistics for Windows, Version 18.0. Chicago: SPSS Inc.) and student t-test for each independent group.


  Results Top


[Table 1] shows the scores for psychological capital components in control and study groups. As shown in [Table 1], there is no meaningful distinction between the average psychological capital score of control and study groups.
Table 1: Average scores of psychological capital components for control and study groups

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  Discussion and Conclusions Top


The results of this study showed that teaching mindfulness was unsuccessful in increasing the average psychological capital score of the students.

Results of multiply studies such as those by Brown and Ryan (2000), Schonert-Reichl and Lawlor (2010), Felton (2013), Kavyani et al. (2005), Azargoon and Kajbaf (2011), Golpour Chamankoohi et al. (2012), and Yousefian and Asgharipour (2014)[5],[10],[12],[9],[18],[21],[23] showed that teaching mindfulness is effective in influencing the studied characteristics, which are not similar to the results obtained in the current study.

In this study, the training sessions were mostly based on scientific basis and practical exercises. However, given the fact that mindfulness is a novel concept, it seems that more time need to be spent increasing the awareness and knowledge of participants about mindfulness and the effectiveness of training; practical exercises are expected to increase with the increase in the awareness of the participants. Also, the training sessions were held at the same day as other university classes, thus resulting in a tight schedule for the students in that day to tight schedule for the students in that day. It is necessary for the basis of the teachings to be fully consistent with components of the dependent variable, although according to the participants, many useful and necessary subjects were thought during training sessions.

Another limitation in this study is the lower homogeneity of study group compared to control group based on study major and year which needs to be considered in later studies. Also, the time for the posttest was close to the semester finals, which leads to increased stress and anxiety in the students.

Another important point is that in most intervention studies, posttest is carried out less than a week after the intervention. However, in this study in order to investigate the persistence and effectiveness of the intervention, posttest was carried out 3 months after last training session. For future studies, it is suggested for least two posttests (one immediately after intervention and one test a few months after intervention) to be carried out.

It is recommended for other researchers to consider the above-mentioned limitations and repeat this study for other groups of students because according the feedback from the participants during eight training sessions, the results were satisfactory and various scientific studies point to the effectiveness of this intervention.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

 
  References Top

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