Mindfulness: What It Is and How It Is Impacting Healthcare

Matias P. Raski

ABSTRACT

The following is a review of literature concerning the place of mindfulness, a non-judging present-moment awareness, and techniques by which to invoke it, in Canadian healthcare. Central to the discussion are the effects of mindfulness on personal and interpersonal wellbeing. A recent surge of research has found mindfulness to positively impact a wide range of measures of personal health including stress, anxiety, affect, and healthy lifestyle choices. At present, mindfulness-based interventions have been confirmed effective for the treatment of chronic pain, psoriasis, and a number of psychiatric illnesses, and are possibly helpful for the prevention of cognitive decline. Mindfulness also presents benefits to interpersonal relationships by promoting empathy, compassion and attentiveness reflected in the enhanced patient-centeredness with which mindful physicians conduct their clinical practice. As such, mindfulness training among healthcare providers is advocated for the improvement of quality of care as well as a means to mitigate work-related stress and burnout. The underlying mechanisms of the effects of mindfulness are also discussed, with emphasis on present-moment attentiveness and a disempowerment of one’s maladaptive cognitions allowing the individual to act with intention and care rather than out of habit and impulse. Given the potential for mindfulness to promote health and enrich the practice of medicine, its increased utilization among patients, physicians, and the population at large is encouraged.

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Raski MP. Mindfulness: What It Is and How It Is Impacting Healthcare. UBCMJ. 2015: 7.1 (56-59).