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Unlocking the Power of the Mind: 7 MINDFULGym's Groundbreaking Studies in Malaysia

Updated: Mar 22, 2023

MINDFULGym for Medical Students

The study led by consultant psychiatrist and senior lecturer Dr. Phang Cheng Kar is a promising and exciting development in stress management among medical students. Conducted in Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM), it was Malaysia's first randomized controlled trial (RCT) to evaluate a local mindfulness-based program known as MINDFULGym.

The lead researcher found that a brief mindfulness-based intervention program effectively reduced stress levels among medical students. The five-week program was delivered through a randomized controlled study, which is a highly rigorous and reliable research design.

The results showed that the intervention participants had significantly lower stress levels than the control group. This suggests that the intervention is valuable for medical students to manage stress and improve their overall well-being.

These findings have important implications for medical education, as stress is a common issue medical students face. By providing an effective and accessible stress management program like MINDFULGym, medical schools can support the mental health of their students and contribute to the development of resilient and healthy healthcare professionals.

Overall, the study is a positive and encouraging development in stress management for medical students and highlights the potential benefits of incorporating mindfulness-based interventions into medical education.


Phang, C. K., Mukhtar, F., Ibrahim, N., Keng, S.-L., & Mohd. Sidik, S. (2015). Effects of a brief mindfulness-based intervention program for stress management among medical students: the Mindful-Gym randomized controlled study. Advances in Health Sciences Education, 20(5), 1115 – 1134.


MINDFULGym DVD for Medical Students

The study conducted by Phang et al. (2015) aimed to investigate the effectiveness of a mindfulness-based intervention, based on the MINDFULGym program, in reducing stress levels among medical students. This study was unique because the intervention was delivered via a DVD, making it easily accessible to the students.

The study utilized a randomized controlled design, with one group receiving the DVD intervention while the other group acted as a control and did not receive any intervention. After the intervention, the researchers assessed the stress levels of both groups and compared them to determine if there were any significant differences.

The study's findings showed that the group that received the DVD intervention had significantly lower stress levels than the control group. This is an exciting and promising result, as it suggests that a mindfulness-based intervention delivered via a DVD could be a simple yet effective way to reduce stress in medical students.

Overall, this study highlights the potential of using technology to deliver interventions and promote student well-being. The findings provide hope for those who are struggling with stress and suggest that simple interventions like these could be a valuable addition to existing stress reduction programs.


Phang, C. K., Mukhtar, F., Ibrahim, N., Keng, S.-L., & Mohd. Sidik, S. (2015). Effects of a DVD-delivered mindfulness-based intervention for stress reduction in medical students: a randomized controlled study. Education in Medicine Journal, 7(3).


MINDFULGym for Nurses in UMMC

In 2020, a groundbreaking study was conducted at University Malaysia Medical Centre (UMMC) under the lead researcher Ghawadra SF, who was a Ph.D. student. This study is significant as it is the first randomized control trial (RCT) on healthcare professionals in Malaysia, which investigated the effectiveness of a mindfulness-based program (MINDFULGym) developed by consultant psychiatrist Dr. Phang Cheng Kar from Sunway Medical Centre. The study aimed to assess the impact of the program on stress, anxiety, depression, and job satisfaction among ward nurses. The research team randomly assigned participants to either the intervention group, which underwent a two-hour seminar followed by four weeks of guided self-practice through a website, or the control group, which received no intervention. The study results showed that nurses who underwent the mindfulness program reported significantly lower levels of stress, anxiety, and depression and significantly higher levels of job satisfaction than the control group. The evidence-based intervention program provides nurses with tools to manage stress, improve emotional regulation, and enhance overall well-being. This study has important implications for the nursing profession in Malaysia as it highlights the potential of the MINDFULGym-based mindfulness program to improve the well-being of nurses. The program can be easily integrated into nursing education and practice and may also apply to other healthcare professions that experience high-stress levels. The study also underscores the importance of investing in healthcare professionals' well-being, which can positively impact patient outcomes and the quality of healthcare delivery.


Ghawadra, SF, Lim Abdullah, K, Choo, WY, Danaee, M, Phang, CK (2020). The Effect of Mindfulness‐based Training on Stress, Anxiety, Depression and Job Satisfaction Among Ward Nurses: A Randomized Control Trial. J Nurs Manag. 2020; 28: 1088– 1097.


MINDFULGym for Patients with Depression & Anxiety

Dr. Lim Sin Chee, the lead researcher from the National University of Malaysia, conducted the first-ever mindfulness study on a clinical population in Malaysia at the UKM Medical Centre. The study aimed to investigate the potential benefits of a brief mindfulness-based intervention (MINDFULGym) as an adjunctive therapy for individuals with depressive and anxiety disorders.

The positive outcome of the study highlights the remarkable potential of mindfulness-based interventions to alleviate anxiety and depression symptoms, where such interventions have yet to be extensively explored. This research provides vital insights into the benefits of mindfulness-based therapies, which could significantly improve the mental health of a vast number of people in Malaysia.

By demonstrating the effectiveness of these interventions, the findings could lead to the implementation of evidence-based practices that enhance the mental well-being of Malaysians.


Lim, SC, Nik, RNJ, Marhani, M, Phang, CK, Low, MY, Haslina, MR, Tuti, IM (2020). Brief Mindfulness-based Intervention as an Adjunctive Therapy for People With Depressive and Anxiety Disorder: A Pilot Study in Malaysia. Malaysian Journal of Medicine and Health Sciences, 16(1), 173-182.


MINDFULGym for Caregivers in Penang

The lead author, Dr. Lee Sze Chet, collaborated with other researchers at Penang General Hospital to conduct a study on the potential benefits of a one-day mindfulness-based intervention in reducing psychological distress levels among caregivers of children with speech and language difficulties.

This pilot randomized controlled trial, using an adapted version of the MINDFULGym program, produced encouraging results, showing that the mindfulness-based intervention effectively reduced psychological distress among caregivers. The findings suggest that mindfulness-based interventions could be a valuable tool in supporting caregivers' mental health and well-being in similar settings.

This study emphasizes the need for additional research to further understand the potential benefits of mindfulness-based interventions in enhancing caregivers' psychological well-being.


Chet, L. S., Ismail, W. S. W., Jaafar, N. R. N., Kar, Phang, C.K, & Eow, T. E. (2019). The Effects of a One-day Mindfulness-based Intervention on Psychological Distress for Caregivers of Children with Speech-language Pathology: A Pilot Randomized Control Trial. Malaysian Journal of Medicine and Health Sciences, 15(3), 29-36.


MINDFULGym for Nurses in Kelantan

Two recent studies, conducted at Hospital Kubang Kerian (USM) in Kelantan, Malaysia, have demonstrated promising results in using mindfulness-based interventions to improve the well-being of nurses. The first study, led by Dr. Fadzil, utilized the MINDFULGym mindfulness program developed by mindfulness-based psychiatrist Dr. Phang Cheng Kar from Sunway Medical Centre. The study found that using the mindfulness program led to significant improvements in various measures of mental health and well-being among nurses.

The second study, led by Dr. Izyan, explored the subjective experiences of nurses who participated in the same mindfulness program. The study found that the program was well-received by the nurses, who reported experiencing improved mental health, better coping skills, and increased mindfulness. The study highlights the importance of providing support and resources to nurses to help them manage stress and maintain their well-being in the workplace.

Overall, these two studies suggest that the MINDFULGym mindfulness program can be an effective tool in promoting nurses' mental health and well-being. These findings are particularly important given the high-stress levels and burnout experienced by many nurses in their work.

The pioneering studies, which involved predominantly Malay nurses, also serves as a proof of concept that mindfulness training is both acceptable and beneficial in multi-ethnic communities.


Izyan SK, Nor Asyikin F, Asrenee AZ, Phang CK (2021). Experience of Mindfulness Programme for Nurses at a Hospital in Kelantan, Malaysia: A Qualitative Study. Malaysian Journal of Psychiatry. 20(2):4-16.

Fadzil NA, Heong WO, Kueh YC, Phang CK (2021). The Effect of a Mindfulness-Based Intervention on Nurses in Kelantan, Malaysia. Malays J Med Sci. 2021;28(6):121-128. doi: 10.21315/mjms2021.28.6.12. Epub 2021 Dec 22.

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