Randomized Clinical Trial of Adapted Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction Versus Group Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Heterogeneous Anxiety Disorders

Behav Res Ther. 2013 May;51(4-5):185-96. doi: 10.1016/j.brat.2013.01.003. Epub 2013 Jan 25.


Objective: To compare a mindfulness-based intervention with cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) for the group treatment of anxiety disorders.

Method: One hundred five veterans (83% male, mean age=46 years, 30% minority) with one or more DSM-IV anxiety disorders began group treatment following randomization to adapted mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) or CBT.

Results: Both groups showed large and equivalent improvements on principal disorder severity thru 3-month follow up (ps<.001, d=-4.08 for adapted MBSR; d=-3.52 for CBT). CBT outperformed adapted MBSR on anxious arousal outcomes at follow up (p<.01, d=.49) whereas adapted MBSR reduced worry at a greater rate than CBT (p<.05, d=.64) and resulted in greater reduction of comorbid emotional disorders (p<.05, d=.49). The adapted MBSR group evidenced greater mood disorders and worry at Pre, however. Groups showed equivalent treatment credibility, therapist adherence and competency, and reliable improvement.

Conclusions: CBT and adapted MBSR were both effective at reducing principal diagnosis severity and somewhat effective at reducing self-reported anxiety symptoms within a complex sample. CBT was more effective at reducing anxious arousal, whereas adapted MBSR may be more effective at reducing worry and comorbid disorders.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Anxiety Disorders / psychology
  • Anxiety Disorders / therapy*
  • Awareness
  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy / methods*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mind-Body Therapies / methods*
  • Stress, Psychological / therapy*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Veterans / psychology
  • Young Adult