Skip to main content
Log in

The efficacy of mindful practice in improving diagnosis in healthcare: a systematic review and evidence synthesis

Advances in Health Sciences Education Aims and scope Submit manuscript

Cite this article


Despite a variety of definitions of mindfulness, over the past 20 years there have been increasing claims that mindful practice is helpful in improving the accuracy of clinical diagnosis. We performed a systematic review and evidence synthesis in order to: determine the nature and definitions of mindful practice and associated terms; evaluate the quality of evidence for the benefits of mindful practice; and conclude whether mindful practice may reduce diagnostic error. We screened 14397 refereed reports from the five common literature databases, to include 33 reports related to the use of mindful practice in clinical diagnosis. Our evidence synthesis contained no randomised controlled trials (level I evidence) of mindful practice, the majority of supporting evidence (26 reports or 79%) comprised conceptual commentary or opinion (level IV evidence). However, 2 supporting reports constituted controlled studies without randomisation (level IIa), 1 report was quasi-experimental (level IIb), and 4 reports were comparative studies (level III). Thus, we may tentatively conclude that mindful practice appears promising as a method of improving diagnostic accuracy, but that further definitive studies of efficacy are required. We identified a taxonomy of 71 terms related to mindful practice, 7 of which were deemed core terms due to being each cited 5 times or more. The 7 core terms appear to be sufficient to describe the findings at higher levels of evidence in our evidence synthesis, suggesting that future definitive studies of mindful practice should focus on these common core terms in order to promote more generalisable findings.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this article

Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.

Instant access to the full article PDF.

Institutional subscriptions

Fig. 1


Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to Ralph Pinnock.

Additional information

Publisher's Note

Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.


Appendix 1

See Table 4.

Table 4 Example search strategy for PsycINFO

Appendix 2

See Table 5.

Table 5 Terminology used in discussing concepts of mindfulness in clinical practice (unabridged)

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Pinnock, R., Ritchie, D., Gallagher, S. et al. The efficacy of mindful practice in improving diagnosis in healthcare: a systematic review and evidence synthesis. Adv in Health Sci Educ 26, 785–809 (2021).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: