Defense Date


Graduation Date

Spring 2015


Immediate Access

Submission Type


Degree Name





School of Nursing

Committee Chair

Joan Such Lockhart

Committee Member

Alison Colbert

Committee Member

Ara Schmitt


Health and environmental sciences, Education, Attention, Meditation, Mindfulness, Nursing student, Safety, Stress


The development of mindfully-attentive nursing graduates is a heightened charge for pre-licensure nurse educators given an increasingly complex healthcare workplace in which nurse's must detect patient risk among multiple stimuli, distractions, and interruption (Beyea, 2007; Cornell et al., 2010; Ebright, et al., 2006). Novice nurses frequently report symptoms of cognitive overload associated with error and other negative patient outcomes (Ebright, Urden, Patterson, & Chalko, 2004; McGillis Hall et al., 2010; Unver, Tastan, & Akbayrak, 2012) yet standard pre-licensure nursing curricula does not specifically prepare students for the needed attention regulation skills of safe nursing practice. Recent and accumulating neuroscientific research suggests a strong correlation between regular practice of mindfulness meditation (MM) (Eberth & Sedlmeier, 2012) and enhanced attentional capacity. This randomized controlled trial therefore investigated the effect of MM as compared to standard nursing education on the efficiency of attentional processes (alerting, orienting, and executive function) in pre-licensure registered nursing students (N=52) as well as on accuracy in performance of a nursing skill. It was framed by Posner and Gilbert's (2002) neuropsychological Model of Attention. Main outcome data were collected using the Attention Network Test (ANT) (Fan, McCandliss, Sommer, Raz & Posner, 2002), and an investigator-developed Medication Administration Task (MAT). Examination of possible confounding influences of perceived stress using the Perceived Stress Scale - 10 (PSS-10) (Cohen, Kamarck, & Mermelstein, 1983) and mindfulness using the Five -Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire (FFMQ) (Baer, Smith, Hopkins, Krietemeyer, & Toney, 2006) were also included. Nursing students who participated in online training and four weeks of daily MM practice demonstrated improvement to executive attention efficiency as compared to a non-meditating control group F (1, 49) =4.26, p = .044, although interpretation was restricted by accompanied low power .53. MAT results on nursing skill accuracy were non-significant, but group differences on posttests of PSS-10 and FFMQ were significant F (2, 47) = 7.16, p = .002, power .92. After four weeks of meditation, participants in the MM group scored higher in mindfulness characteristics and lower in perceived stress than control group participants who did not meditate.