Peer-Reviewed Journal Details
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Worobetz A., Retief P.J., Loughran S., Walsh J., Casey M., Hayes P., Bengoechea E.G., O'Regan A., Woods C., Kelly D., O'Connor R., McGrath D., Glynn L.G.
BMC medical education
A feasibility study of an exercise intervention to educate and promote health and well-being among medical students: the 'MED-WELL' programme
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Feasibility study Medical education Physical activity
BACKGROUND: Medical School programme workloads challenge the physical and mental health of students particularly in compressed graduate entry programmes. There is evidence that physical activity (PA) can improve holistic care and help maintain wellness among medical students. We tested the feasibility of introducing an exercise programme to the medical school curriculum which would educate and promote health and well-being among its students. METHODS: This study was conducted in a single graduate entry medical school at the University of Limerick (UL). The 'MED-WELL' programme was a six-week programme of 1 hour-long weekly sessions, each involving a different type of PA (45min). These sessions were prefaced by an interactive lecture about how to incorporate exercise theory into daily medical practice (15min). The study was conducted in a single graduate entry medical school at UL and involved year one and year two graduate entry medical students. Three parameters were used to test feasibility: 1. Recruitment and retention of participants, 2. Acceptability of the programme and 3. Efficacy in terms of health and well-being. The latter was assessed by administering questionnaires pre and post the intervention. The questionnaires used the following validated measurement scales: EQ-VAS; WHO-5 Well-Being Index; 3-item Loneliness Scale; Social Support Measure 3-item scale. Free text boxes also encouraged participants to discuss the merits of the programme. RESULTS: In total, 26% (74/286 students) participated in the programme. Of those who participated, 69 students (93%) attended one or more sessions of the programme and completed questionnaires at baseline and at follow-up. Significant improvements were seen in scores after the programme in the WHO-5 Well-Being Index which increased from 63.2 (95%CI: 48-78.4) to 67.5 (95%CI: 55.1-79.9); (P<0.01), the sleep scale which increased from 3.1 (95%CI: 2.2-4.0) to 3.5 (95%CI: 2.5-4.5); (P<0.001), and the loneliness scale which decreased from 4.1 (95%CI: 2.7-5.5) to 3.5 (95%CI: 2.5-4.5); (P<0.005). Students level of PA during a typical week also increased from 3.7 (95%CI: 2.1-5.4) to 4.0 (95%CI, 3.5-4.5); (P<0.05). CONCLUSION: This study has shown it is feasible to deliver this programme in a medical school's curriculum. The programme seems to be of benefit and is acceptable to students. Well-designed randomised controlled trials are needed to measure outcomes, durability of effect, and cost effectiveness.
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