Comparing the Effectiveness of Virtual and In-Person Delivery of Mindfulness-Based Skills Within Healthcare Curriculums

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date



Medical Science Educator








COVID-19; Curriculum; Mindfulness; Professional resilience; Stress; Virtual delivery


Purpose: To promote well-being, healthcare education programs have incorporated mindfulness-based skills and principles into existing curriculums. Pandemic-related restrictions have compelled programs to deliver content virtually. Study objectives were to determine (1) whether teaching mindfulness-based skills within physician assistant (PA) programs can promote well-being and (2) whether delivery type (virtual vs. in-person) can impact the effectiveness. Methods: During this 2-year study, a brief mindfulness-based curriculum was delivered to incoming first-year students at six PA programs, while students at two programs served as controls. The curriculum was delivered in-person in year one and virtually in year two. Validated pre- and post-test survey items assessed mindfulness (decentering ability, present moment attention and awareness, and psychological flexibility) and well-being (perceived stress and life satisfaction). Results: As expected, coping abilities and well-being were adversely impacted by educational demands. The mindfulness-based curriculum intervention was effective in increasing mindfulness and life satisfaction, while decreasing perceived stress when delivered in-person. Virtual curricular delivery was effective in decreasing perceived stress but not improving life satisfaction. Over half of the participants receiving the curriculum reported positive changes on mindfulness measures with approximately 14–38% reporting a change of greater than one standard deviation. Changes on mindfulness measures explained 30–38% of the reported changes in perceived stress and 22–26% of the changes in life satisfaction. Therefore, the mindfulness curriculum demonstrated statistically significant improvements in measures of mindfulness and mitigated declines in life satisfaction and perceived stress. Conclusion: Mindfulness-based skills effectively taught in-person or virtually within PA programs successfully promote well-being.