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12-01-2019 | ORIGINAL PAPER Open Access

The Effectiveness of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) in Real-World Healthcare Services

Alice Tickell, Susan Ball, Paul Bernard, Willem Kuyken, Robert Marx, Stuart Pack, Clara Strauss, Tim Sweeney, Catherine Crane
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The online version of this article (https://​doi.​org/​10.​1007/​s12671-018-1087-9) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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Depression is common with a high risk of relapse/recurrence. There is evidence from multiple randomised controlled trials (RCTs) demonstrating the efficacy of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) for the prevention of depressive relapse/recurrence, and it is included in several national clinical guidelines for this purpose. However, little is known about whether MBCT is being delivered safely and effectively in real-world healthcare settings. In the present study, five mental health services from a range of regions in the UK contributed data (n = 1554) to examine the impact of MBCT on depression outcomes. Less than half the sample (n = 726, 47%) entered with Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9) scores in the non-depressed range, the group for whom MBCT was originally intended. Of this group, 96% sustained their recovery (remained in the non-depressed range) across the treatment period. There was also a significant reduction in residual symptoms, consistent with a reduced risk of depressive relapse. The rest of the sample (n = 828, 53%) entered treatment with PHQ-9 scores in the depressed range. For this group, 45% recovered (PHQ-9 score entered the non-depressed range), and overall, there was a significant reduction in depression severity from pre-treatment to post-treatment. For both subgroups, the rate of reliable deterioration (3%) was comparable to other psychotherapeutic interventions delivered in similar settings. We conclude that MBCT is being delivered effectively and safely in routine clinical settings, although its use has broadened from its original target population to include people experiencing current depression. Implications for implementation are discussed.

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