Evidence & Research

Information


Evidence and Research

Evidence

The Oxford Centre for Mindfulness has found that Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) prevents depression in the service users who have experienced recurrent depression:

  • For people who have experienced three or more previous episodes of depression, MBCT reduces the recurrence rate over 12 months by 40–50% compared with usual care. (Crane C et al, “The effects of amount of home meditation practice in Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy on hazard of relapse to depression in the Staying Well after Depression Trial”, Behaviour Research and Therapy, 2014).
  • MBCT is as effective at reducing recurrence as antidepressants (Williams et al, Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for preventing relapse in recurrent depression: A randomized dismantling trial, Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 2013).
  • In the UK, the Government’s National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) has recommended MBCT in their Guidelines for Management of Depression (2004, 2009) for service users who have had three or more episodes of depression.

A research study published by the University of Oxford in November 2013 provides evidence of the effectiveness of the Be Mindful Online course. The study examined the effects of the course for 273 people who had completed it, and showed that, on average, after one month, they enjoyed:

  • A 58% reduction in anxiety levels
  • A 57% reduction in depression
  • A 40% reduction in stress

Ongoing research

Mindfulness can be useful for people from all walks of life and the number of areas that mindfulness is being applied to is growing.

Schools

Mindfulness has proven to be effective for children and young people, with school-based interventions having positive outcomes on wellbeing: reducing anxiety and distress as well as improving behaviour, among other areas (K Weare “Developing mindfulness with children and young people: a review of the evidence and policy context”, Journal of Children’s Services, 2013). Evidence also suggests that children who used mindfulness practices more frequently reported higher wellbeing and lower stress scores (W Kuyken et al, “Effectiveness of the Mindfulness in Schools Programme: non-randomised controlled feasibility study”, The British Journal of Psychiatry, 2013).

A successful Mindfulness in Schools project was set up in 2007 and is now being taught in 12 different countries. This nine-week course is especially designed for school students, whether they are dealing with exam stress, bullying, or seeking to enhance study skills. It’s being used to improve students’ wellbeing as well as helping them to learn and concentrate better.

Criminal justice

Mindfulness practice within criminal justice settings is currently being developed around the country. In HMP Brixton a “Mind/Body Workout Group” was established to help individuals to develop their own mindfulness practice. Evidence on the effectiveness of mindfulness interventions in prisons has been gathered mainly in the USA; a study based in Massachusetts found significant improvements in hostility, self-esteem, and mood disturbance following a course of mindfulness (M Samuelson et al, “Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction in Massachusetts Correctional Facilities”, The Prison Journal, 2007).

Pregnancy

A limited amount of research into mindfulness during pregnancy has shown encouraging results on the positive impact of mindfulness, finding ‘significantly’ reduced anxiety (C Vieten and J Astin, “Effects of a mindfulness-based intervention during pregnancy on prenatal stress and mood: results of a pilot study”, Archives of Women’s Mental Health, 2008).

We are currently supporting research at the University of Oxford on the impact of online mindfulness programmes in the perinatal period (during pregnancy and for the first year after the birth). This doctorate will complete in autumn 2015.

Workplace

Mindfulness in the workplace has been popularised by a number of global companies including Google. However, among smaller businesses mindfulness is not yet widespread. There is growing evidence, shown by initial studies, that mindfulness in the workplace can have a number of positive effects. These include a decrease in perceived stress (Wolever, R et al “Effective and viable mind-body stress reduction in the workplace: A randomized controlled trial,” Journal of Occupational Health Psychology, 2012), and an increase in better concentration levels including memory tasks and multi-tasking (Levy, D M et al, “Initial results from a study of the effects of meditation on multitasking performance”, Proceedings of the 2011 annual conference extended abstracts on Human factors in computing systems, 2011). The Mental Health Foundation supported a doctoral study on the impact of online mindfulness and workplace rumination at the University of Surrey, which completed in 2014.

 
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