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Journal of Wellness

Abstract

Introduction: Medical students face significant mental health challenges as they matriculate through medical training. Research has emphasized the need for more interventions that promote physician trainee well-being and resilience during the early stages of training. Recent interventions have shown to be effective in promoting mental health and well-being; however, no interventions have examined the impact that daily gratitude practice, which is linked to increased well-being, may have on dispositional gratitude levels among medical students.

Methods: In Spring 2019, medical students at the University of South Florida were invited to participate in a gratitude program. Participants logged three good things that happened to them each day, for a period of 30 days. Their dispositional gratitude levels were assessed using the short-form Gratitude Resentment and Application Test (GRAT) before and after the 30-day intervention. Participant demographics and changes in GRAT scores from baseline to follow-up were examined.

Results: Forty-six medical students volunteered to participate in a short-term, gratitude-focused wellness program. Overall levels of dispositional gratitude increased significantly among medical students (p<.001). While a significant increase in GRAT score was found among the thirty-five female participants (p<.001), no significant change was found among the eleven male participants (p=.154). GRAT scores increased significantly among both first- and second-year medical students (p=.001). However, no significant increases were reported among third- and fourth-year students (p=.109). GRAT scores increased significantly regardless of whether students used a tool to practice gratitude at baseline.

Conclusion: Our results demonstrate that a 30-day gratitude practice program can improve dispositional gratitude among medical students, particularly among female students and pre-clinical students in years one and two.

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