Improvement of mindfulness skills during Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy predicts long-term reductions of neuroticism in persons with recurrent depression in remission.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Journal of Affective Disorders, Volume 213, p.112-117 (2017)



Mindfulness; Big five personality traits; Recurrent depression; Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy; Remission


Background: This study examined whether changes in mindfulness skills following Mindfulness-based
Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) are predictive of long-term changes in personality traits.
Methods: Using data from the MOMENT study, we included 278 participants with recurrent depression in
remission allocated to Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT). Mindfulness skills were measured with
the FFMQ at baseline, after treatment and at 15-month follow-up and personality traits with the NEO-PI-R at
baseline and follow-up.
Results: For 138 participants, complete repeated assessments of mindfulness and personality traits were
available. Following MBCT participants manifested significant improvement of mindfulness skills. Moreover, at
15-month follow-up participants showed significantly lower levels of neuroticism and higher levels of
conscientiousness. Large improvements in mindfulness skills after treatment predicted the long-term changes
in neuroticism but not in conscientiousness, while controlling for use of maintenance antidepressant
medication, baseline depression severity and change in depression severity during follow-up (IDS-C). In
particular improvements in the facets of acting with awareness predicted lower levels of neuroticism. Sensitivity
analyses with multiple data imputation yielded similar results.
Limitations: Uncontrolled clinical study with substantial attrition based on data of two randomized controlled
Conclusions: The design of the present study precludes to establish whether there is any causal association
between changes in mindfulness and subsequent changes in neuroticism. MBCT could be a viable intervention
to directly target one of the most important risk factors for onset and maintenance of recurrent depression and
other mental disorders, i.e. neuroticism.