Studies Reveal Rx for Doctors
2020 Archives (2014
One personal quality that many patients seek in their physicians is compassion. In addition, medical schools are beginning to search for premedical students that possess compassionate qualities. Premedical students and physicians alike might wonder how they can increase their compassion. It seems that the answer may arise from an age-old tradition—meditation. Meditation has been around for thousands of years, and has been shown to lead to several benefits including increased well-being, reduced stress, and positive emotions. In addition, recent studies have found that mediation can benefit others through the promotion of altruistic behavior. Researchers in Boston have found that both mindfulness meditation and compassion meditation, over the course of eight weeks, can increase the likelihood that a person will give up his or her seat to relieve the suffering of another. In the New York Times article "Morality of Meditation," David DeSteno, a psychology professor at Northeastern University, explains the study's findings. DeSteno and colleagues recruited 39 participants from the Boston area to participate in an eight-week meditation course. Among the 39 recruits, 20 participants (the meditators) were assigned to weekly meditation classes. Nineteen participants (the nonmeditators) were informed that they were placed on a waiting list for the meditation study. After eight weeks, both the meditators and the nonmeditators (the waiting list controls) were brought to the lab to participate in an experiment, which they believed was about memory, attention, and cognitive functioning. The actual experiment occurred in the waiting room. When the participant entered the waiting room, only one chair was available out of three. Members of the research team occupied the remaining two chairs, pretending to be participants. A third researcher on crutches then enters the room, also pretending to be a participant. The experiment examined whether the true participant would altruistically offer his or her seat to the "hurt participant [...]
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