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The Long-Term Effects of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy as a Relapse Prevention Treatment for Major Depressive Disorder

  • Kate L. Mathew (a1), Hayley S. Whitford (a1), Maura A. Kenny (a2) and Linley A. Denson (a1)


Background: Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) is a relapse prevention treatment for major depressive disorder. Method: An observational clinical audit of 39 participants explored the long-term effects of MBCT using standardized measures of depression (BDI-II), rumination (RSS), and mindfulness (MAAS). Results: MBCT was associated with statistically significant reductions in depression from pre to post treatment. Gains were maintained over time (Group 1, 1–12 months, p = .002; Group 2, 13–24 months, p = .001; Group 3, 25–34 months, p = .04). Depression scores in Group 3 did begin to worsen, yet were still within the mild range of the BDI-II. Treatment variables such as attendance at “booster” sessions and ongoing mindfulness practice correlated with better depression outcomes (p = .003 and p = .03 respectively). There was a strong negative correlation between rumination and mindful attention (p < .001), consistent with a proposed mechanism of metacognition in the efficacy of MBCT. Conclusion: It is suggested that ongoing MBCT skills and practice may be important for relapse prevention over the longer term. Larger randomized studies of the mechanisms of MBCT with longer follow-up periods are recommended.


Corresponding author

Reprint requests to Kate L. Mathew, School of Psychology, Level 4, Hughes Building, The University of Adelaide, South Australia 5005, Australia. E-mail:


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The Long-Term Effects of Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy as a Relapse Prevention Treatment for Major Depressive Disorder

  • Kate L. Mathew (a1), Hayley S. Whitford (a1), Maura A. Kenny (a2) and Linley A. Denson (a1)
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