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As mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) becomes an increasingly mainstream approach for recurrent depression, there is a growing need for practitioners who are able to teach MBCT. The requirements for being competent as a mindfulness-based teacher include personal meditation practice and at least a year of additional professional training. This study is the first to investigate the relationship between MBCT teacher competence and several key dimensions of MBCT treatment outcomes. Patients with recurrent depression in remission (N = 241) participated in a multi-centre trial of MBCT, provided by 15 teachers. Teacher competence was assessed using the Mindfulness-Based Interventions: Teaching Assessment Criteria (MBI:TAC) based on two to four randomly selected video-recorded sessions of each of the 15 teachers, evaluated by 16 trained assessors. Results showed that teacher competence was not significantly associated with adherence (number of MBCT sessions attended), possible mechanisms of change (rumination, cognitive reactivity, mindfulness, and self-compassion), or key outcomes (depressive symptoms at post treatment and depressive relapse/recurrence during the 15-month follow-up). Thus, findings from the current study indicate no robust effects of teacher competence, as measured by the MBI:TAC, on possible mediators and outcome variables in MBCT for recurrent depression. Possible explanations are the standardized delivery of MBCT, the strong emphasis on self-reliance within the MBCT learning process, the importance of participant-related factors, the difficulties in assessing teacher competence, the absence of main treatment effects in terms of reducing depressive symptoms, and the relatively small selection of videotapes. Further work is required to systematically investigate these explanations.
BACKGROUND:Previous studies have suggested that patients' treatment preferences may influence treatment outcome. The current study investigated whether preference for either mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) or maintenance antidepressant medication (mADM) to prevent relapse in recurrent depression was associated with patients' characteristics, treatment adherence, or treatment outcome of MBCT. METHODS: The data originated from two parallel randomised controlled trials, the first comparing the combination of MBCT and mADM to MBCT in patients preferring MBCT (n=249), the second comparing the combination to mADM alone in patients preferring mADM (n=68). Patients' characteristics were compared across the trials (n=317). Subsequently, adherence and clinical outcomes were compared for patients who all received the combination (n=154). RESULTS: Patients with a preference for mADM reported more previous depressive episodes and higher levels of mindfulness at baseline. Preference did not affect adherence to either MBCT or mADM. With regard to treatment outcome of MBCT added to mADM, preference was not associated with relapse/recurrence (χ(2)=0.07; p=.80), severity of (residual) depressive symptoms during the 15-month follow-up period (β=-0.08, p=.49), or quality of life. LIMITATIONS: The group preferring mADM was relatively small. The influence of preferences on outcome may have been limited in the current study because both preference groups received both interventions. CONCLUSIONS: The fact that patients with a preference for medication did equally well as those with a preference for mindfulness supports the applicability of MBCT for recurrent depression. Future studies of MBCT should include measures of preferences to increase knowledge in this area.