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Importance Relapse prevention in recurrent depression is a significant public health problem, and antidepressants are the current first-line treatment approach. Identifying an equally efficacious nonpharmacological intervention would be an important development.Objective To conduct a meta-analysis on individual patient data to examine the efficacy of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) compared with usual care and other active treatments, including antidepressants, in treating those with recurrent depression. Data Sources English-language studies published or accepted for publication in peer-reviewed journals identified from EMBASE, PubMed/Medline, PsycINFO, Web of Science, Scopus, and the Cochrane Controlled Trials Register from the first available year to November 22, 2014. Searches were conducted from November 2010 to November 2014. Study Selection Randomized trials of manualized MBCT for relapse prevention in recurrent depression in full or partial remission that compared MBCT with at least 1 non-MBCT treatment, including usual care. Data Extraction and Synthesis This was an update to a previous meta-analysis. We screened 2555 new records after removing duplicates. Abstracts were screened for full-text extraction (S.S.) and checked by another researcher (T.D.). There were no disagreements. Of the original 2555 studies, 766 were evaluated against full study inclusion criteria, and we acquired full text for 8. Of these, 4 studies were excluded, and the remaining 4 were combined with the 6 studies identified from the previous meta-analysis, yielding 10 studies for qualitative synthesis. Full patient data were not available for 1 of these studies, resulting in 9 studies with individual patient data, which were included in the quantitative synthesis. Results Of the 1258 patients included, the mean (SD) age was 47.1 (11.9) years, and 944 (75.0%) were female. A 2-stage random effects approach showed that patients receiving MBCT had a reduced risk of depressive relapse within a 60-week follow-up period compared with those who did not receive MBCT (hazard ratio, 0.69; 95% CI, 0.58-0.82). Furthermore, comparisons with active treatments suggest a reduced risk of depressive relapse within a 60-week follow-up period (hazard ratio, 0.79; 95% CI, 0.64-0.97). Using a 1-stage approach, sociodemographic (ie, age, sex, education, and relationship status) and psychiatric (ie, age at onset and number of previous episodes of depression) variables showed no statistically significant interaction with MBCT treatment. However, there was some evidence to suggest that a greater severity of depressive symptoms prior to treatment was associated with a larger effect of MBCT compared with other treatments. Conclusions and Relevance Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy appears efficacious as a treatment for relapse prevention for those with recurrent depression, particularly those with more pronounced residual symptoms. Recommendations are made concerning how future trials can address remaining uncertainties and improve the rigor of the field.
Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) is an efficacious psychosocial intervention for recurrent depression (Kuyken et al., 2008; Ma & Teasdale, 2004; Teasdale et al., 2000). To date, no compelling research addresses MBCT's mechanisms of change. This study determines whether MBCT's treatment effects are mediated by enhancement of mindfulness and self-compassion across treatment, and/or by alterations in post-treatment cognitive reactivity. The study was embedded in a randomized controlled trial comparing MBCT with maintenance antidepressants (mADM) with 15-month follow-up (Kuyken et al., 2008). Mindfulness and self-compassion were assessed before and after MBCT treatment (or at equivalent time points in the mADM group). Post-treatment reactivity was assessed one month after the MBCT group sessions or at the equivalent time point in the mADM group. One hundred and twenty-three patients with ≥3 prior depressive episodes, and successfully treated with antidepressants, were randomized either to mADM or MBCT. The MBCT arm involved participation in MBCT, a group-based psychosocial intervention that teaches mindfulness skills, and discontinuation of ADM. The mADM arm involved maintenance on a therapeutic ADM dose for the duration of follow-up. Interviewer-administered outcome measures assessed depressive symptoms and relapse/recurrence across 15-month follow-up. Mindfulness and self-compassion were measured using self-report questionnaire. Cognitive reactivity was operationalized as change in depressive thinking during a laboratory mood induction. MBCT's effects were mediated by enhancement of mindfulness and self-compassion across treatment. MBCT also changed the nature of the relationship between post-treatment cognitive reactivity and outcome. Greater reactivity predicted worse outcome for mADM participants but this relationship was not evident in the MBCT group. MBCT's treatment effects are mediated by augmented self-compassion and mindfulness, along with a decoupling of the relationship between reactivity of depressive thinking and poor outcome. This decoupling is associated with the cultivation of self-compassion across treatment.