Posted : 01.19.2015 | by AMRA


Most patients with mild to moderate psychological ailments are treated in primary care settings where treatment may involve medication and/or a limited number of therapy sessions, most likely using some form of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Therapists can be scarce, however, and one-to-one clinical interventions can be costly. Sundquist et al. [British Journal of Psychiatry] explored whether a group-delivered mindfulness-based intervention (MBI) offered within a primary care setting might have equivalent outcomes to routine standard treatment.

The authors recruited 215 primary care patients from 16 different Swedish primary care settings. The patients had mild to moderate depressive, anxiety, and adjustment disorders and were seeking therapy. The patients were largely middle-aged, female, and well-educated. Participants were randomly assigned to either a MBI or routine standard care, mainly CBT.

The MBI was an 8-week group treatment modeled after Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) and delivered by primary care psychologists and social counselors who underwent a six-session training.

The three symptom rating scales were administered before and after the 8-week intervention period. Both treatment groups improved significantly on all three scales. There were no significant differences between the MBI and standard care groups over time. The MBI treatment response was dose dependent – patients attending 5 or fewer sessions improved on only one of the three anxiety and depression measures, while those attending 6-8 sessions improved on all three. The equivalence between the MBI and standard care groups persisted even when reanalyzed using only those standard care members receiving CBT.

The findings suggest that 8 sessions of a group-delivered MBI provide essentially the same symptomatic relief as an average of six sessions of individually-delivered CBT when delivered as usual within a primary care setting. There was no long-term follow-up, so it remains to be seen whether this equivalence persists over time.


Sundquist, J., Lilja, Palmér, K., Memon, A. A., Wang, X., Johansson, L. M., & Sundquist, K. (2014). Mindfulness group therapy in primary care patients with depression, anxiety and stress and adjustment disorders: Randomised controlled trial. The British Journal of Psychiatry.

[Link to abstract]