Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) has shown some efficacy for patients with anxiety disorders. However, most of available studies suffer from important methodological shortcomings, including the lack of adequate control groups and of follow-up measures. The present study aims to compare MBCT with an active psycho-educational and introductory cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) control group designed to match as much as possible the MBCT program but excluding mindfulness meditation practice for the treatment of patients with generalized anxiety disorder and panic disorder who did not achieve remission following at least 8 weeks of adequate pharmacological treatment.
Out of 112 screened patients, 52 were randomized to receive MBCT or psycho-education for 8 weeks and were prospectively followed for 26 weeks. The severity of anxiety symptoms was assessed with the Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI) and the Penn State Worry Questionnaire (PSWQ). Measures of depression, mindfulness and quality of life were also included (Beck Depression Inventory-II; Five Facet Mindfulness Questionnaire; Psychological General Well Being Index). All assessments were performed at baseline, 4, 8, 17 and 26 weeks.
BAI and PSWQ showed higher improvements, which were particularly evident over the long-term period, in the MBCT group than in the psycho-education group.
Although limited by a small sample size, the results of this study suggest the superiority of MBCT over an active psycho-educational and introductory CBT control group for non-remitted patients with anxiety disorders.