Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy for recurrent major depression: A ‘best buy’ for health care?

Frances Shawyer, Joanne Enticott, Mehmet Ozmen, Brett Andrew Inder, Graham N Meadows

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: While mindfulness-based cognitive therapy is effective in reducing depressive relapse/recurrence, relatively little is known about its health economic properties. We describe the health economic properties of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy in relation to its impact on depressive relapse/recurrence over 2 years of follow-up. Method: Non-depressed adults with a history of three or more major depressive episodes were randomised to mindfulness-based cognitive therapy + depressive relapse active monitoring (n = 101) or control (depressive relapse active monitoring alone) (n = 102) and followed up for 2 years. Structured self-report instruments for service use and absenteeism provided cost data items for health economic analyses. Treatment utility, expressed as disability-adjusted life years, was calculated by adjusting the number of days an individual was depressed by the relevant International Classification of Diseases 12-month severity of depression disability weight from the Global Burden of Disease 2010. Intention-to-treat analysis assessed the incremental cost–utility ratios of the interventions across mental health care, all of health-care and whole-of-society perspectives. Per protocol and site of usual care subgroup analyses were also conducted. Probabilistic uncertainty analysis was completed using cost–utility acceptability curves. Results: Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy participants had significantly less major depressive episode days compared to controls, as supported by the differential distributions of major depressive episode days (modelled as Poisson, p < 0.001). Average major depressive episode days were consistently less in the mindfulness-based cognitive therapy group compared to controls, e.g., 31 and 55 days, respectively. From a whole-of-society perspective, analyses of patients receiving usual care from all sectors of the health-care system demonstrated dominance (reduced costs, demonstrable health gains). From a mental health-care perspective, the incremental gain per disability-adjusted life year for mindfulness-based cognitive therapy was AUD83,744 net benefit, with an overall annual cost saving of AUD143,511 for people in specialist care. Conclusion: Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy demonstrated very good health economic properties lending weight to the consideration of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy provision as a good buy within health-care delivery.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1001 - 1013
Number of pages13
JournalAustralian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2016


  • Randomised controlled trial
  • mindfulness-based cognitive therapy
  • major depressive disorder
  • health economics
  • cost-effectiveness

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