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BackgroundMajor depression is a common psychiatric disorder, frequently taking a chronic course. Despite provision of evidence-based treatments, including antidepressant medication and psychological treatments like cognitive behavioral therapy or interpersonal therapy, a substantial amount of patients do not recover. Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) has been found to be effective in reducing relapse in recurrent depression, as well as lowering symptom levels in acute depression. The effectiveness of MBCT for chronic, treatment-resistant depression has only be studied in a few pilot trials. A large randomized controlled trial is necessary to examine the effectiveness of MBCT in reducing depressive symptoms in chronic, treatment-resistant depression. Methods/Design A randomized-controlled trial is conducted to compare MBCT with treatment-as-usual (TAU). Patients with chronic, treatment-resistant depression who have received antidepressant medication and cognitive behavioral therapy or interpersonal therapy are included. Assessments take place at baseline and post intervention/TAU-period. The primary outcome are depressive symptoms. Secondary outcomes are: remission rates, quality of life, rumination, mindfulness skills and self-compassion. Patients in the TAU condition are offered to participate in the MBCT after the post TAU-period assessment. From all completers of the MBCT (MBCT condition and patients participating after the TAU-period), follow-up assessments are taken at three and six months after the completion of the MBCT. Discussion This trial will result in valuable information about the effectiveness of MBCT in chronic, treatment-resistant depressed patients who previously received antidepressant medication and psychological treatment.

As mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) becomes an increasingly mainstream approach for recurrent depression, there is a growing need for practitioners who are able to teach MBCT. The requirements for being competent as a mindfulness-based teacher include personal meditation practice and at least a year of additional professional training. This study is the first to investigate the relationship between MBCT teacher competence and several key dimensions of MBCT treatment outcomes. Patients with recurrent depression in remission (N = 241) participated in a multi-centre trial of MBCT, provided by 15 teachers. Teacher competence was assessed using the Mindfulness-Based Interventions: Teaching Assessment Criteria (MBI:TAC) based on two to four randomly selected video-recorded sessions of each of the 15 teachers, evaluated by 16 trained assessors. Results showed that teacher competence was not significantly associated with adherence (number of MBCT sessions attended), possible mechanisms of change (rumination, cognitive reactivity, mindfulness, and self-compassion), or key outcomes (depressive symptoms at post treatment and depressive relapse/recurrence during the 15-month follow-up). Thus, findings from the current study indicate no robust effects of teacher competence, as measured by the MBI:TAC, on possible mediators and outcome variables in MBCT for recurrent depression. Possible explanations are the standardized delivery of MBCT, the strong emphasis on self-reliance within the MBCT learning process, the importance of participant-related factors, the difficulties in assessing teacher competence, the absence of main treatment effects in terms of reducing depressive symptoms, and the relatively small selection of videotapes. Further work is required to systematically investigate these explanations.