Condition category
Mental and Behavioural Disorders
Date applied
Date assigned
Last edited
Retrospectively registered
Overall trial status
Recruitment status
No longer recruiting

Plain English Summary

Background and study aims.
This study aimed to examine the acceptability and mechanisms of action of Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) delivered to patients in remission, but with a history of serious suicidal thoughts or behaviour. The aim of the study was to explore the feasibility of delivering MBCT to this population, and the extent to which treatment with MBCT could reduce vulnerability to suicidal thoughts and behaviour through an examination of its effects on psychological factors linked to of suicidal vulnerability.

Who can participate?
Participants aged between 18 and 65 who were currently well but reported at least one prior episode of major depression accompanied by serious suicidal thoughts were recruited from general practitioners and local psychologists/psychiatrists and from the community. All participants were required to be well (no more than one week of minimal depressive symptoms in the past 8 weeks), and to have experienced no episodes of mania for at least 6 months. Additional exclusion criteria included current psychosis, obsessive compulsive disorder or eating disorder as their main problem, current deliberate self harm on a regular basis, a neurological disorder or an inability to complete assessments due to language difficulties or cognitive impairment.

What does the study involve?
Participants were interviewed using the Mini International Neuropsychiatric Interview to establish psychiatric history. Following this, participants completed a number of other assessment measures assessing aspects of cognitive vulnerability to depression and suicidality. These measures included assessment of residual symptoms of depression, mood-related impairments in problem solving and future thinking, autobiographical memory deficits, tendency to suppress unwanted thoughts and self-discrepancy (perceptions of distance between how one currently sees themselves and how one would like to be). Participants were then randomly allocated to either immediate treatment with MBCT or a waitlist condition. The measures were completed again at the end of treatment or waitlist phase. Following this the waitlist group received treatment with MBCT.

What are the possible benefits and risks of participating?
Benefits included the fact that all participants were offered treatment with Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy, either immediately or at the end of the waitlist phase of the study. Potential risks to participants related to the distress of reporting on prior psychiatric history and the inherent challenges of engaging in a therapeutic process designed to target vulnerability to recurrent depression and suicidality.

Where is the study run from?
Department of Psychiatry, University of Oxford

When is the study starting and how long is it expected to run for?
The study started in May 2005 and ended in December 2005

Who is funding the study?
The Wellcome Trust

Who is the main contact?
Professor Mark Williams

Trial website

Contact information



Primary contact

Prof J. Mark G. Williams


Contact details

Oxford University
Department of Psychiatry
Warneford Hospital
United Kingdom
+44 (0)1865 226445

Additional identifiers

EudraCT number number

Protocol/serial number


Study information

Scientific title


Study hypothesis

This is a preliminary (explanatory) trial to assess the immediate effects of Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) on cognitive reactivity (the tendency to react to small changes in mood with a catastrophic and rapidly escalating pattern of suicidal thinking).

Ethics approval

Not provided at time of registration

Study design

Randomised controlled trial

Primary study design


Secondary study design

Randomised controlled trial

Trial setting


Trial type


Patient information sheet




Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT): manualised, eight week treatment combining stress reduction techniques and cognitive therapy and Treatment As Usual (TAU)

Waiting List control and Treatment As Usual (TAU)

Intervention type



Not Applicable

Drug names

Primary outcome measure

1. Depression
2. Frequency of thought suppression
3. Change in problem solving and future thinking following experimental induction of mood
4. Self-rated mindfulness
5. Discrepancy between actual and ideal self-guides
6. Specificity of autobiographical memory

Secondary outcome measures

No secondary outcome measures

Overall trial start date


Overall trial end date


Reason abandoned (if study stopped)


Participant inclusion criteria

1. Aged 18 to 64
2. History of major depression with suicidal ideation and/or suicidal behaviour
3. Not currently depressed or suicidal (at least eight weeks symptom free)

Participant type


Age group




Target number of participants


Participant exclusion criteria

1. Visually impaired
2. Not fluent in English
3. Habitual self-damaging acts
4. Bipolar disorder
5. Schizophrenia
6. Active substance abuse
7. Eating disorder
8. Primary Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Recruitment start date


Recruitment end date



Countries of recruitment

United Kingdom

Trial participating centre

Oxford University
United Kingdom

Sponsor information


University of Oxford (UK)

Sponsor details

University Offices
Wellington Square
United Kingdom
+44 (0)1865 270143

Sponsor type




Funder type


Funder name

The Wellcome Trust (UK) (grant ref: 067797)

Alternative name(s)

Funding Body Type

Funding Body Subtype


Results and Publications

Publication and dissemination plan

Not provided at time of registration

Intention to publish date

Participant level data

Not provided at time of registration

Basic results (scientific)

Publication list

1. 2008 preliminary results in
2. 2008 results in
3. 2009 results in

Publication citations

  1. Preliminary results

    Williams JM, Alatiq Y, Crane C, Barnhofer T, Fennell MJ, Duggan DS, Hepburn S, Goodwin GM, Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) in bipolar disorder: preliminary evaluation of immediate effects on between-episode functioning., J Affect Disord, 2008, 107, 1-3, 275-279, doi: 10.1016/j.jad.2007.08.022.

  2. Results

    Hepburn SR, Crane C, Barnhofer T, Duggan DS, Fennell MJ, Williams JM, Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy may reduce thought suppression in previously suicidal participants: findings from a preliminary study., Br J Clin Psychol, 2009, 48, Pt 2, 209-215, doi: 10.1348/014466509X414970.

Additional files

Editorial Notes