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10-07-2019 | REVIEW | Uitgave 11/2019

Mindfulness 11/2019

Mindfulness-Based Interventions for Prevention of Depressive Symptoms in University Students: a Meta-analytic Review

Mindfulness > Uitgave 11/2019
Liang Ma, Yingnan Zhang, Zeshi Cui
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The online version of this article (https://​doi.​org/​10.​1007/​s12671-019-01192-w) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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The aim of this meta-analytic review was to determine the efficacy of mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) for prevention of depressive symptoms in university students as well as to explore potential moderators that predict the magnitude of MBIs’ effects.


Twenty-five randomized controlled trials were identified eligible for inclusion of the current meta-analytic review. Pooled effect sizes were calculated using random-effects models by summarizing the differences of pre-post changes in depressive symptoms between the intervention and control conditions. Effect sizes of universal, selective, and indicated MBIs were assessed. Subgroup and meta-regression analyses were used to explore potential moderators of the intervention effects.


MBIs were found effective for prevention of depressive symptoms in university students. The overall mean effect size was 0.52, which was considered moderate. Universal, selective, and indicated MBIs were all associated with significant reductions in depressive symptoms, with effect sizes of 0.41, 0.44, and 0.88. Larger effects emerged for participants from indicated MBIs, studies with small sample sizes, MBIs with medium length, and MBIs delivered on a weekly basis.


This meta-analytic review reinforces the evidence to support the use of MBIs for prevention of depressive symptoms in university students. In particular, our analyses suggest a range of moderators associated with MBIs’ effects. Further studies with methodological rigor are needed to confirm and extend the findings of this meta-analytic review.

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