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Med in school

Empathy and stress

Can empathy and compassion meditation help reduce stress? This was the focus of a study published last year by researchers at Emory University in the US.
Sixty-one healthy students were randomly assigned to one of two groups. One group participated in six weeks of twice-weekly classroom training in a secular compassion meditation while the other group (the control group) spent a similar amount of time in health discussions.

At the end of the study, students in both groups were asked to participate in a "stressful task" based on a widely used laboratory psychosocial stress test. Researchers measured their biological responses, including blood levels of the stress hormones cortisol and interleukin 6 (IL-6), which is a marker of inflammation. The more often subjects practiced compassion meditation, the lower the levels of inflammation in their blood after the stress test. Find out more on the Emory University website.