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Work stress, burnout, and diminished empathy are prevalent issues for health‐care professionals. Mindfulness meditation (MM) is one commonly used strategy to manage stress. Measuring salivary cortisol allows for the assessment of serum cortisol level, a known stress level indicator. This study evaluated the association of subject‐reported stress symptoms and salivary cortisol in health‐care professionals, in an 8‐week MM program, with data collected prospectively at baseline and 8 weeks after program completion. Questionnaires [Profile of Mood States—Short Form (POMS‐SF), Maslach Burnout Inventory (MBI), and Interpersonal Reactivity Index (IRI)] measured mood, burnout and empathy.A paired t‐test between groups for pre/post‐salivary cortisol yielded no significant change. The POMS‐SF was most sensitive to change (mean increase 12.4; p = 0.020). Emotional exhaustion, measured in the MBI, was also affected by MM (mean decrease 4.54; p = 0.001). Changes in empathy may not have been captured due to either absence of effect of MM on empathy, subject number or scale sensitivity. Baseline and 8‐week correlations between salivary cortisol and survey results, and correlations between changes in these measures, were weak and not statistically significant. Nevertheless, psychometric results present a strong case for additional clinical trials of MM to reduce stress for health‐care professionals.
Palaeontologists characterize mass extinctions as times when the Earth loses more than three-quarters of its species in a geologically short interval, as has happened only five times in the past 540 million years or so. Biologists now suggest that a sixth mass extinction may be under way, given the known species losses over the past few centuries and millennia. Here we review how differences between fossil and modern data and the addition of recently available palaeontological information influence our understanding of the current extinction crisis. Our results confirm that current extinction rates are higher than would be expected from the fossil record, highlighting the need for effective conservation measures.