Group-based mindfulness therapy 'as effective' as individual CBT

Group mindfulness therapy is as effective as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) for treating depression, anxiety and stress and can be offered more widely to benefit more patients at lower costs, research suggests.

A Swedish study has found that group mindfulness therapy ‘has an equally positive effect’ as individual CBT, but can be offered at a fraction of the cost.

The researchers, from Lund University, suggest that the group-based training could be used in primary care to make treatment more accessible to a greater number of patients for the same benefits as CBT.

A total of 215 patients with depression, anxiety and stress-related disorders were recruited for the study, which ran for eight weeks in 2012.

Half were allocated to an intervention group and received mindfulness therapy for two hours each week, while the remaining half were placed into a control group and received CBT.

Group therapy

Patients filled in questionnaires before and following treatment to assess the intensity of a range of psychiatric symptoms, including general anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, interpersonal sensitivity, aggression and others.

The results, published in European Psychiatry, found that all assessed symptoms significantly decreased for patients in both groups, and there was ‘no difference’ between the two treatments.

Lead author Professor Jan Sundquist said: ‘Our research shows that mindfulness group therapy has the equivalent effect as individual CBT for a wide range of psychiatric symptoms that are common among this patient group.

‘As mental illnesses are increasing at a very fast rate it is absolutely essential to expand the treatment alternatives for this patient group in primary healthcare. Our view is that the scarce resources should be partly reallocated to mindfulness group therapy so that the limited availability of individual psychotherapy can be utilised in an optimal fashion.’

Photo: iStock

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