A meta-analysis of third wave mindfulness-based cognitive behavioral therapies for older people

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Objectives: The aim of this study is to review the effectiveness of third wave mindfulness-based cognitive behavioral therapies (CBTs) for depressive or anxiety symptomatology in older adults across a wide range of physical and psychological conditions. Methods: Electronic literature databases were searched for articles, and random-effects meta-analysis was conducted. Results: Ten studies met the inclusion criteria, of which nine reported the efficacy of interventions on depressive symptoms and seven on anxiety symptoms. Effect-size estimates suggested that mindfulness-based CBT is moderately effective on depressive symptoms in older adults (g = 0.55). The results demonstrated a similar level of overall effect size for anxiety symptoms (g = 0.58). However, there was a large heterogeneity, and publication bias was evident in studies reporting outcomes on anxiety symptoms, and thus, this observed efficacy for late-life anxiety may not be robust. The quality of the included studies varied. Only one study used an active psychological control condition. There were a limited number of studies that used an intent-to-treat (last observation carried forward method) analysis and reported appropriate methods for clinical trials (e.g., treatment-integrity reporting). Conclusions: Third wave mindfulness-based CBT may be robust in particular for depressive symptoms in older adults. We recommend that future studies (i) conduct randomized controlled trials with intent-to-treat to compare mindfulness-based CBT with other types of psychotherapy in older people and (ii) improve study quality by using appropriate methods for checking treatment adherence, randomization, and blinding of assessors. Copyright © 2016 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1352–1361
JournalInternational Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry
Issue number12
Early online date11 Nov 2016
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2017


    Research areas

  • acceptance and commitment therapy, mindfulness, mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, depression, anxiety

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