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HLSC122 Critical Analysis of Primary Study by McConville About Mindfulness Assessment 3 Answer

HLSC122 Evidence for Practice

Assessment Task 3

 SCENARIO 1: Mindfulness and Stress Reduction  

Steve   is a millennial student (born 2000) who has unique views on how a millennial student should be taught, and how they should learn at university.  He also believes that mindfulness can reduce stress and should be promoted in a learning environment,  as a strategy to promote the health and wellbeing of university students.  One of his peers, Debbie,  thinks mindfulness is a millennial thing that has little value in promoting wellbeing or reducing stress. Both Steve and Debbie want to find out if practising mindfulness does actually help with reducing stress.

Clinical question

Does practising mindfulness help in reducing  stress among university students? 



A lack of studies based on specific investigation of mindfulness-based interventions is the reason of a detailed analysis conducted by McConville et al. (2019) considering physiotherapy students as the participants. This paper aims to present a critical analysis of the primary study conducted by McConville et al. (2019) about the mindfulness as an intervention to address the psychological distress experienced by students of physiotherapy. The paper is analyzed based on some pre=defined criteria about the strengths and weaknesses of the research work including authorship, research question, research design, research methods and limitations and results. Additionally, the paper presents a discussion about the enablers and barriers related to implementation of the suggested program and other recommendations of the study across universities providing physiotherapy courses and training. 

Part A- Critical appraisal

As per the view of Cainelli et al. (2015) there are several responsibilities associated with authorship of a research paper where it is important to consider proper planning, conduct of study, analysis of data and reporting of results are based on the knowledge and experience of the author. Under the concerned study there are four authors with proper qualification and experience in the field of physiotherapy and exposure in the area of medicine and sports psychology making them appropriate researchers for the study based on students’ distress. This is a major strength of the research paper as evident from the credentials, qualifications and affiliations of the authors. It is also to be noted that authors have behaved responsibly by declaring that there is ‘no conflict of interest’ making the issues of personal interference and bias at bay. 

Research question & Justification

The study conducted by McConville et al. (2019) sought to identify “the lives experience of third-year physiotherapy students who participated in a sex-week mindful stress-reduction (MSR) intervention” adopting two interventions based on the concept of ‘mindfulness’. The introduction section of the paper justifies the research appropriately with explaining the meaning of ‘mindfulness’ as well as creating the need of such a study in the field of physiotherapy studies. The discussion is supported with adequate research work published from 2015-2019 that is quite close to the publication date of the study, i.e. 2019. Additionally, the discussion is successful in presenting the literature gap about mindfulness-based interventions by citing research work from 2002-2011 establishing that the required studies are rare, and we should look for specific and concrete research work in this area. This is a major strength of the paper creating a proper background for the research work acting a route to fill the identified literature gap.

Research Design

The authors states that qualitative analytic method is used as the research design where thematic analysis formed the basis of analysis of data collected to identify the patterns of meaning. As discussed by Greenhalgh (2019), the focus of qualitative research is on exploring the knowledge grounded in experience of human beings. Under the present study authors fails to explain the research design in detail and justify thematic analysis method of analysis. This is a key weakness of the research study that can have an impact on reliability of results. Nevertheless, the selection of qualitative research design is suitable for its benefits of flexibility and adaptability required under studies focused on exploring experience and feelings of participants (Greenhalgh, 2019). At the same time, adding thematic analysis to qualitative research design brings required flexibility and possibilities to look of rich and detailed information (Nowell et al., 2017).

Research Methods

The authors selected the sample of the study through self-selection participation where students were explained about the purpose of the study. However, they themselves volunteered to participate where a random selection method was used to allocate them to MSR or MMov group. Such a method makes the sampling weak and results in sampling bias due to small size of sample and self-selection participation making it unclear about the results if the complete cohort had participated in the study. However, the ethical approval reported by the authors as obtained from the Human Resources Ethics Committee of the university is a major strength making the results reliable and valid at the end. Furthermore, the data collection tool is well explained as interviews conducted by a student enrolled in an Honors degree psychology program. As per the view of Hoffman et al. (2017) and Greenhalgh (2019) such an interview method is reliable and act as a strength of the study as it ensures avoidance of personal interference and bias in the process of collecting data. 

At the same time, it is to be noted that results of the study are discussed in long paragraphs with mere representation of the data through proper tables, illustrations, figures and images making it difficult to read and understand the major points. 

Results and Limitations

The authors of the study found that increased mindfulness proves to be a good choice to improve the overall wellbeing of students of psychology. They can concentrate on their studies that increased their efficiency and they are able to make healthier choices in terms of lifestyle, exercise, sleep and diet habits. 

However, some important limitations were identified by the authors related to selection of participants and not considering the complete cohort that limits the generalization of results. Also, they explained that same elements considered under MSR and MMov making it challenging to establish the relative contribution of medication and movement interventions on distress among students of physiotherapy.

Such limitations impact the results generalizations and implementations due to sampling bias and issues with clear contribution of the suggested interventions (Bring & Walt, 2018).

Part B- Enablers and Barriers

The recommendations of the research paper can be implemented in university courses offering training in physiotherapy and reducing the instances of distress among students. Here a key enabler is the easy and cost-effective implementation of interventions that can be undertaken as a part of training program without any additional cost and time required to manage the issues. Moreover, the healthier choices fostered by mindfulness will help in better lifestyle, health and improved diet of students. This further leads to better concentration, listening and communication skills necessary to deliver efficient patient care and ensure therapeutic alliance under professional physiotherapy (Pinto et al., 2012). 

Considering the barriers to adoption of recommendations, the incentives and approvals necessary to bring changes to education and training courses will act as a major de-motivating factor for universities. Another barrier may arise when students fails to consider the interventions as efficient in addressing the distress experienced by them and the importance of such activities in advancing their personal and professional growth. In such a case, students will not take up the activities and programs in a healthy manner thereby making it difficult to adopt across universities. 


From the above discussion and analysis, it is concluded that the study conducted by McConville et al. (2019) fills the literature gap related to specific studies on mindfulness as a key intervention to address the issue of distress among physiotherapy students. Along with some limitations related to sampling bias and limited generalization of results, the study has the strength of human ethics approval and declaration of conflict of interest along with a strong and appropriate authorship. The study can form a strong basis for future research work in the field of mindfulness. The results of the study can be taken forward to conduct detailed analysis with a bigger sample size and make the interventions more applicable and easily adaptable across universities to manage the issues of distress among students and provide them healthier choices of living and improving their knowledge and skills. 

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