Mindfulness-based therapy: a comprehensive meta-analysis

Clin Psychol Rev. 2013 Aug;33(6):763-71. doi: 10.1016/j.cpr.2013.05.005. Epub 2013 Jun 7.


Background: Mindfulness-based therapy (MBT) has become a popular form of intervention. However, the existing reviews report inconsistent findings.

Objective: To clarify these inconsistencies in the literature, we conducted a comprehensive effect-size analysis to evaluate the efficacy of MBT.

Data sources: A systematic review of studies published in journals or in dissertations in PubMED or PsycINFO from the first available date until May 10, 2013.

Review methods: A total of 209 studies (n=12,145) were included.

Results: Effect-size estimates suggested that MBT is moderately effective in pre-post comparisons (n=72; Hedge's g=.55), in comparisons with waitlist controls (n=67; Hedge's g=.53), and when compared with other active treatments (n=68; Hedge's g=.33), including other psychological treatments (n=35; Hedge's g=.22). MBT did not differ from traditional CBT or behavioral therapies (n=9; Hedge's g=-.07) or pharmacological treatments (n=3; Hedge's g=.13).

Conclusion: MBT is an effective treatment for a variety of psychological problems, and is especially effective for reducing anxiety, depression, and stress.

Keywords: Meditation; Meta-analysis; Mindfulness; Treatment outcome.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Anxiety Disorders / psychology
  • Anxiety Disorders / therapy*
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology
  • Depressive Disorder / therapy*
  • Humans
  • Mindfulness*
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology
  • Stress, Psychological / therapy*
  • Treatment Outcome