BACKGROUND: Previous studies have suggested that patients' treatment preferences may influence treatment outcome. The current study investigated whether preference for either mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) or maintenance antidepressant medication (mADM) to prevent relapse in recurrent depression was associated with patients' characteristics, treatment adherence, or treatment outcome of MBCT.
METHODS: The data originated from two parallel randomised controlled trials, the first comparing the combination of MBCT and mADM to MBCT in patients preferring MBCT (n=249), the second comparing the combination to mADM alone in patients preferring mADM (n=68). Patients' characteristics were compared across the trials (n=317). Subsequently, adherence and clinical outcomes were compared for patients who all received the combination (n=154).
RESULTS: Patients with a preference for mADM reported more previous depressive episodes and higher levels of mindfulness at baseline. Preference did not affect adherence to either MBCT or mADM. With regard to treatment outcome of MBCT added to mADM, preference was not associated with relapse/recurrence (χ(2)=0.07; p=.80), severity of (residual) depressive symptoms during the 15-month follow-up period (β=-0.08, p=.49), or quality of life.
LIMITATIONS: The group preferring mADM was relatively small. The influence of preferences on outcome may have been limited in the current study because both preference groups received both interventions.
CONCLUSIONS: The fact that patients with a preference for medication did equally well as those with a preference for mindfulness supports the applicability of MBCT for recurrent depression. Future studies of MBCT should include measures of preferences to increase knowledge in this area.