Mindfulness Group Therapy Yields Similar Results as Individual CBT

April 25, 2017
mindfulness group therapy

Primary care patients with depression, anxiety, and stress-related disorders had similar symptom improvement whether they took part in mindfulness group therapy or individual cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), researchers report in European Psychiatry.

“Our new 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,” said researcher Jan Sundquist, MD, PhD, a professor at Lund University, Sweden.

The 8-week randomized controlled trial involved 215 men and women diagnosed with depression, anxiety, and stress-related disorders at 16 primary care centers in southern Sweden. Using the Symptom Checklist-90, researchers assessed a broad range of psychiatric symptoms before and after treatment with mindfulness group therapy or individual CBT, including depression, general anxiety, stress and somatization, obsessive-compulsive disorder, interpersonal sensitivity, aggression, phobic anxiety, paranoid ideation, and psychoticism.

Mentally Ill Accessing Less US Health Care

Jan Sundquist
    Jan Sundquist, MD, PhD

After 8 weeks of treatment, both groups showed significantly decreased scores on all subscales and indexes on the Symptom Checklist-90. Researchers found no significant differences in the change of psychiatric symptoms between the groups.

The findings suggest less costly mindfulness group therapy may be a viable alternative to individual CBT, researchers said.

“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,” said Dr. Sundquist. “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 utilized in an optimal fashion.”

 —Jolynn Tumolo


Sundquist J, Palmer K, Johansson LM, Sundquist K. The effect of mindfulness group therapy on a broad range of psychiatric symptoms: a randomized controlled trial in primary health care. European Psychiatry. 2017;43:19-27.

Mindfulness just as effective as CBT for a broad range of psychiatric symptoms [press release]. Lund, Sweden: Lund University; April 13, 2017.