Mindfulness and Medication Alliance (MiMA)

About the Mindfulness and Medication Alliance

Background of the project

This exploratory project received competitive grant funding from the Victorian Centre for Excellence in Depressive Disorders from 2003 to 2006, with supplementary funding and support from Southern Health as well as from other Southern Synergy resources. This pilot study, set within a 2x2 factorial intervention design has been conducted with the Middle-South and Dandenong Primary Mental Health Teams.

The achievements of the pilot project

To establish capacity to deliver two novel clinical interventions; to establish capacity to conduct clinical trials research with these interventions including developing a bank of research assessors and to conduct pilot research involving both of the interventions. These experiences and findings provided preliminary data that was important in the success of an application for NHMRC project grant funding. The two interventions are each approaches to psychological treatments within comprehensive treatment and long term care of depression. Medication Alliance Therapy for Depression (MAT-D) was developed by Dr Mitchell Byrne and others at the University of Wollongong in collaboration with this group. It extends work the Wollongong team have been doing for some years with clinical case managers and treatment of schizophrenia so as to be applicable for responding to the needs of people with depression particularly in collaboration with primary care. MAT is intended as an intervention for delivery by primary care nursing staff.

Key findings of the pilot study

There presently are major organisational obstacles are in place in the way of engaging these practitioners in this kind of work, that the intervention in this setting would best be tested in a cluster randomised design and that the inclusion criteria for testing the intervention are different from those of MBCT.

Reforms currently planned by the Commonwealth Government may well change the workforce picture and the strategy at present with this intervention is to monitor developments through implementation of these reforms and then at a timely point make grant submissions to facilitate further examination of the technique. It is planned to introduce a version of the MAT package into training for registrars and medical officers in Southern Mental Health.

Mindfulness Based Cognitive Therapy is a group instruction technique developed in North America and the United Kingdom that involves a combination of specific meditation practices and cognitive therapy techniques. Key achievements of the pilot study were the establishment of strong collaborative links with the University of Toronto team working with MBCT, the establishment of a clinical program and a training scheme of the highest quality for clinical instructors here in Victoria, and the acquisition of pilot data that contributed to the success of a NHMRC grant application.

Key Centre Staff: Amanda Favilla, Annette Graham, Catharine McNab, Professor Graham Meadows.

Key Collaborators: Victorian Centre of Excellence in Depressive Disorders, Dandenong and Middle South Primary Mental Health Teams, Professor Wendy Cross, Dandenong and Middle South Divisions of General Practice, Anthony Cichello, Professor Zindel Segal (Toronto).

Final Report 2010

Preventing Relapse in Depression: the Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy and Medication Alliance Therapy Project (pdf, 1.3mb).

Project status

This project was funded as a pilot for a complex study.

We are no longer recruiting to the project but information on the project processes is left here for interest. The project served a critically important function in advancing research agendas around mindfulness research and also alliance therapies.