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Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy Versus Pure Cognitive Behavioural Self-Help for Perfectionism: a Pilot Randomised Study

The current issue of the journal Mindfulness includes a paper that compares mindfulness- based cognitive therapy (MCBT) with cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT).

This pilot study compared mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) with a self-help guide based on cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) for university students experiencing difficulties due to perfectionism. Participants were randomised to an MBCT intervention specifically tailored for perfectionism or pure CBT self-help. Questionnaires were completed at baseline, 8 weeks later (corresponding to the end of MBCT) and at 10-week follow-up. Post-intervention intention-to-treat (ITT) analyses identified that MBCT participants (n = 28) had significantly lower levels of perfectionism and stress than self-help participants (n = 32). There was significant MBCT superiority for changes in unhelpful beliefs about emotions, rumination, mindfulness, self-compassion and decentering. At 10-week follow-up, effects were maintained in the MBCT group, and analyses showed superior MBCT outcomes for perfectionism and daily impairment caused by perfectionism. Pre-post changes in self-compassion significantly mediated the group differences in pre-post changes in clinical perfectionism. Greater frequency of mindfulness practice was associated with larger improvements in self-compassion. MBCT is a promising intervention for perfectionist students, which may result in larger improvements than pure CBT self-help. The findings require replication with a larger sample.

Full reference:

James, K., & Rimes, K. A. (2018). Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy Versus Pure Cognitive Behavioural Self-Help for Perfectionism: a Pilot Randomised Study. Mindfulness9(3), 801-814.

The article is available to read online from Springer here 



Mindfulness Meditation for Primary Headache Pain: A Meta-Analysis.

A new meta-analysis looks at the effects of mindfulness meditation on headaches




Several studies have reported that mindfulness meditation has a potential effect in controlling headaches, such as migraine and tension-type headache; however, its role remains controversial. This review assessed the evidence regarding the effects of mindfulness meditation for primary headache pain.


Only English databases (PubMed, Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials [the Cochrane Library], PsycINFO, Psychology and behavioral science collection, PsyArticles, Web of Science, and Scopus) were searched from their inception to November 2016 with the keywords (“meditation” or “mindfulness” or “vipassana” or “dzogchen” or “zen” or “integrative body-mind training” or “IBMT” or “mindfulness-based stress reduction” or “MBSR” or “mindfulness-based cognitive therapy” or “MBCT” and “Headache” or “Head pain” or “Cephalodynia” or “Cephalalgia” or “Hemicrania” or “Migraine”). Titles, abstracts, and full-text articles were screened against study inclusion criteria: controlled trials of structured meditation programs for adult patients with primary headache pain. The quality of studies included in the meta-analysis was assessed with the Yates Quality Rating Scale. The meta-analysis was conducted with Revman 5.3.


Ten randomized controlled trials and one controlled clinical trial with a combined study population of 315 patients were included in the study. When compared to control group data, mindfulness meditation induced significant improvement in pain intensity (standardized mean difference, -0.89; 95% confidence interval, -1.63 to -0.15; P = 0.02) and headache frequency. In a subgroup analysis of different meditation forms, mindfulness-based stress reduction displayed a significant positive influence on pain intensity (P < 0.000). Moreover, 8-week intervention had a significant positive effect (P < 0.000).


Mindfulness meditation may reduce pain intensity and is a promising treatment option for patients. Clinicians may consider mindfulness meditation as a viable complementary and alternative medical option for primary headache.


Full reference: Gu, Q., Hou, J. C., & Fang, X. M. (2018). Mindfulness Meditation for Primary Headache Pain: A Meta-Analysis. Chinese medical journal131(7), 829.

The article can be read in full here

Effects of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction on employees’ mental health: A systematic review.

A new systematic review considers the effects of mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) on its employees’ mental health. 




The purpose of this exploratory study was to obtain greater insight into the effects of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) and Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) on the mental health of employees.


Using PsycINFO, PubMed, and CINAHL, we performed a systematic review in October 2015 of studies investigating the effects of MBSR and MBCT on various aspects of employees’ mental health. Studies with a pre-post design (i.e. without a control group) were excluded.


24 articles were identified, describing 23 studies: 22 on the effects of MBSR and 1 on the effects of MBSR in combination with some aspects of MBCT. Since no study focused exclusively on MBCT, its effects are not described in this systematic review. Of the 23 studies, 2 were of high methodological quality, 15 were of medium quality and 6 were of low quality. A meta-analysis was not performed due to the emergent and relatively uncharted nature of the topic of investigation, the exploratory character of this study, and the diversity of outcomes in the studies reviewed. Based on our analysis, the strongest outcomes were reduced levels of emotional exhaustion (a dimension of burnout), stress, psychological distress, depression, anxiety, and occupational stress. Improvements were found in terms of mindfulness, personal accomplishment (a dimension of burnout), (occupational) self-compassion, quality of sleep, and relaxation.


The results of this systematic review suggest that MBSR may help to improve psychological functioning in employees

Full reference: Janssen, M., Heerkens, Y., Kuijer, W., Van Der Heijden, B., & Engels, J. (2018). Effects of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction on employees’ mental health: A systematic review. PloS one13(1), e0191332.

The full article can be downloaded here 

Effects of mindfulness exercises as stand-alone intervention on symptoms of anxiety and depression: Systematic review and meta-analysis.

A systematic review on the impact of mindfulness exercises on anxiety and depression has been published in the journal of Behaviour research and therapy.
Full reference: Blanck, P., Perleth, S., Heidenreich, T., Kröger, P., Ditzen, B., Bents, H., & Mander, J. (2017). Effects of mindfulness exercises as stand-alone intervention on symptoms of anxiety and depression: Systematic review and meta-analysis. Behaviour research and therapy.



Mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) are currently well established in psychotherapy with meta-analyses demonstrating their efficacy. In these multifaceted interventions, the concrete performance of mindfulness exercises is typically integrated in a larger therapeutic framework. Thus, it is unclear whether stand-alone mindfulness exercises (SAMs) without such a framework are beneficial, as well. Therefore, we conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis regarding the effects of SAMs on symptoms of anxiety and depression. Systematic searching of electronic databases resulted in 18 eligible studies (n = 1150) for meta-analyses. After exclusion of one outlier SAMs had small to medium effects on anxiety and on depression, when compared with controls. Summary effect estimates decreased, but remained significant when corrected for potential publication bias. This is the first meta-analysis to show that the mere, regular performance of mindfulness exercises is beneficial, even without being integrated in larger therapeutic frameworks.

The full text is available to Rotherham NHS staff to request here

Mindfulness programme as effective as exercise programme in encouraging people to move

Science Daily | May 2018 | Motivation to move may start with being mindful 

A new US study that compared two interventions: mindfulness based stress reduction training  and aerobic exercise training, has found that the participants in both of the  interventions  were more active than control group.  Both interventions involved attending 2.5  hour weekly sessions; those in the mindfulness intervention learning various exercise techniques and discussing strategies to change behaviour and participants in the exercise intervention were taught a number of exercise techniques and discussed strategies to change behaviour.  The participants in the interventions also spent one hour participating in group activities such as walking (via Science Daily).


Researcher Jacob Meyer reports that the subjects in the interventions were active for a further 75 minutes a week of moderate-to-vigorous physical activity following the eight-week interventions.  Although the researchers hypothesised that the exercise group to increase activity, they were surprised by the similar levels of activity from the mindfulness training.

Meyer notes: “Structured exercise training is something as a field we have used for decades to improve physical activity and physical health,” Meyer said. “To see a similar effect on physical activity from an intervention that focuses on the way someone thinks or perceives the world, was completely unexpected.”

The full news item is available from Science Daily 

Meditation could help anxiety and cardiovascular health

One hour of mindfulness meditation shown to reduce anxiety and some cardiovascular risk markers | Michigan Technological University | via ScienceDaily


Preliminary data from a recent student-led study shows that even a single session of meditation can have cardiovascular and psychological benefits for adults with mild to moderate anxiety.

The mindfulness study included three sessions:

  • An orientation session during which researchers measured anxiety using the Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI) and conducted cardiovascular testing by measuring heart rate variability, resting blood pressure and pulse wave analysis;
  • A meditation session that included repetition of the cardiovascular testing plus the mindfulness meditation—20 minutes introductory meditation, 30 minutes body scan and 10 minutes self-guided meditation—as well as repeating cardiovascular measurements immediately following meditation and 60 minutes after;
  • A post-meditation anxiety test one week later.

60 minutes after meditating the 14 study participants showed lower resting heart rates and reduction in aortic pulsatile load – the amount of change in blood pressure between diastole and systole of each heartbeat multiplied by heart rate. Additionally, shortly after meditating, and even one week later, the group reported anxiety levels were lower than pre-meditation levels.

Full detail: Michigan Technological University:  Meditation could help anxiety and cardiovascular health.

School based yoga and mindfulness can help children better manage stress and anxiety

The introduction of a mindfulness and yoga programme with child-friendly poses in an US public school yielded improvement in emotional and psychosocial quality of life for the pupils who participated in this intervention. Researchers worked with a school New Orleans to add mindfulness and yoga to the school’s programming for students needing additional support.  Pupils who were screened for symptoms of anxiety previously were randomly assigned to two groups. The school children participated in the small group activities at the beginning of the school day, these sessions included breathing exercises, guided relaxation and several traditional yoga poses. A control group (n= 32 students) received care as usual, which included counselling and other activities led by a school social worker.  Researchers evaluated each group’s health related quality of life before and after the intervention, using two widely recognized research tools, this included one specifically designed for children, the Paediatric Quality of Life Inventory  (via Science Daily).


Principal author of the study  Alessandra Bazzano said : “The intervention improved psychosocial and emotional quality of life scores for students, as compared to their peers who received standard care.”

The full news release from Science Daily can be read here


Objective: To assess the impact of a yoga curriculum in an elementary school on student quality of life, and to assess teacher and staff perception of potential barriers to, and benefits of, introducing yoga and mindfulness into the classroom.

Methods: A randomized controlled trial was utilized to assess the impact of a brief intervention on third-grade students who screened positive for symptoms of anxiety. Students were randomized to an intervention group of 20 students receiving small-group yoga/mindfulness activities for 8 weeks between October 2016 and February 2017, and a control group of 32 students receiving care as usual. The Brief Multidimensional Students’ Life Satisfaction Scale-Peabody Treatment Progress Battery and the Pediatric Quality of Life Inventory (PedsQL) served as outcomes. Teachers were invited to participate in two professional development sessions about introducing yoga and mindfulness into the classroom, and completed a survey following each of the sessions.

Results: In generalized estimating equation models adjusted for time, the yoga-based intervention was associated with a 14.17 unit increase in student emotional PedsQL (p-value 0.001) and a 7.43 unit increase in psychosocial PedsQL (p-value 0.01). Results were not attenuated by adjustment. Teachers and staff reported using yoga more frequently in the classroom following the second of two professional development sessions (p-value less than 0.05). Perceived barriers to introducing yoga to the classroom were similar at two data collection time points, while perceived benefits remained high.

The intervention was associated with a significant improvement in emotional and psychosocial quality of life in the intervention group when compared to the control group, suggesting that yoga/mindfulness interventions may improve symptoms of anxiety among students. Yoga/mindfulness activities may facilitate stress management among elementary school students and may be added as a complement to social and emotional learning activities.

The paper is published in  Psychology Research and Behavior Management where it can be downloaded