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Journal Article


Shih VWY, Chan WC, Tai OK, Wong HL, Cheng CPW, Wong CSM. East Asian Arch. Psychiatry 2021; 31(2): 27-35.


(Copyright © 2021, Hong Kong Academy of Medicine Press)






BACKGROUND: Rumination and overgeneral autobiographical memory are dysfunctional cognitions commonly found in older adults with depression. The theoretical underpinnings of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) address the ruminative tendencies and the non-specific retrieval of autobiographical memories. This study aims to examine the efficacy and cognitive mechanisms of MBCT in older adults with active depressive symptoms.

METHODS: 57 older adults (mean age, 70 years) with normal cognition and mild to moderate depressive symptoms were randomly allocated to either the MBCT group or the active control group for 8 weeks. The MBCT group consisted of eight 2-hour weekly sessions and a 7-hour full-day retreat, with different themes for each class, guided mindfulness exercises, feedback and discussion, homework review, and psychoeducation. The active control group comprised a 1-hour physical exercise and a standardised health education of the specific theme with group discussion (eg fall prevention, chronic pain). Participants were assessed before and after the 8-week intervention for four outcome measures: the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HAMD), the Ruminative Response Scale (RRS), the Autobiographical Memory Test (AMT), and the Mindful Attention Awareness Scale (MAAS).

RESULTS: There was a significant reduction in severity of depressive symptoms (HAMD score) in both the MBCT group (F(1, 27) = 35.9, p < 0.001, η(2) = 0.57) and the active control group (F(1, 28) = 9.29, p < 0.01, η(2) = 0.24), but only the MBCT group showed substantial improvements in autobiographical memory specificity (AMT score), rumination (RRS score), and mindfulness (MAAS score).

CONCLUSION: Although both MBCT and active control programme decrease the severity of depressive symptoms in older adults, only MBCT improves AMS, rumination, and mindfulness. Our findings provide empirical support for the theoretical underpinnings of MBCT. Older adults with more severe depression and more severe dysfunctional cognition may benefit more from the specific therapeutic effects of MBCT.

Language: en


Aged; Humans; Treatment Outcome; Depression; Mindfulness; *Cognitive Behavioral Therapy; *Mindfulness; *Psychotherapy, Group; Depression/therapy; Memory, episodic; Rumination, cognitive


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