Willem Kuyken

Willem Kuyken
University of Oxford | OX · Department of Psychiatry

PhD

About

217
Publications
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Introduction
Skills and Expertise

Publications

Publications (217)
Article
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Background Previous research suggests that mindfulness training (MT) appears effective at improving mental health in young people. MT is proposed to work through improving executive control in affectively laden contexts. However, it is unclear whether MT improves such control in young people. MT appears to mitigate mental health difficulties during...
Article
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Background Education is broader than academic teaching. It includes teaching students social–emotional skills both directly and indirectly through a positive school climate. Objective To evaluate if a universal school-based mindfulness training (SBMT) enhances teacher mental health and school climate. Methods The My Resilience in Adolescence para...
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Background Systematic reviews suggest school-based mindfulness training (SBMT) shows promise in promoting student mental health. Objective The My Resilience in Adolescence (MYRIAD) Trial evaluated the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of SBMT compared with teaching-as-usual (TAU). Methods MYRIAD was a parallel group, cluster-randomised control...
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Background Preventing mental health problems in early adolescence is a priority. School-based mindfulness training (SBMT) is an approach with mixed evidence. Objectives To explore for whom SBMT does/does not work and what influences outcomes. Methods The My Resilience in Adolescence was a parallel-group, cluster randomised controlled trial (K=84...
Article
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Question Mindfulness-based programmes (MBPs) are an increasingly popular approach to improving mental health in young people. Our previous meta-analysis suggested that MBPs show promising effectiveness, but highlighted a lack of high-quality, adequately powered randomised controlled trials (RCTs). This updated meta-analysis assesses the-state-of th...
Preprint
Purpose: We explored what predicts secondary school students’ mindfulness practice and responsiveness to universal school-based mindfulness training (SBMT).Methods: Participants were 4,232 students (aged 11-13) in 43 UK secondary schools, who received universal SBMT (i.e., “.b” program), within the MYRIAD trial (ISRCTN86619085). Theory-driven stude...
Article
BACKGROUND Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide and prevalence is on the rise. One of the most debilitating aspects of depression is the dominance and persistence of depressive rumination,- a state of mind that is linked to onset, and recurrence of depression. Mindfulness meditation trains adaptive attention regulation and presen...
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Depression is highly recurrent, even following successful pharmacological and/or psychological intervention. We aimed to develop clinical prediction models to inform adults with recurrent depression choosing between antidepressant medication (ADM) maintenance or switching to mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT). Using previously published dat...
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Objectives In order to address an important gap in understanding mechanisms of depressive relapse, we complemented self-report with psychophysiological measures to a specifically developed brief self-compassion exercise, to examine if mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) reduces dispositional negative self-bias in individuals with recurrent d...
Preprint
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Mindfulness training programmes have shown to encourage prosocial behaviours and reduce antisocial tendencies in adolescents. However, less is known about whether training affects susceptibility to prosocial and antisocial influence. The current study investigated the effect of mindfulness training (compared with an active control) on self-reported...
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There is evidence that universal school-based mindfulness training (SBMT) can have positive effects for young people. However, it is unknown who benefits most from such training, how training exerts effects, and how implementation impacts effects. This study aimed to provide an overview of the evidence on the mediators, moderators, and implementati...
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Introduction Decentering describes the ability to voluntarily adopt an objective self-perspective from which to notice internal, typically distressing, stressors (eg, difficult thoughts, memories and feelings). The reinforcement of this skill may be an active ingredient through which different psychological interventions accrue reductions in anxiet...
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The ability to retrieve specific, single-incident autobiographical memories has been consistently posited as a predictor of recurrent depression. Elucidating the role of autobiographical memory specificity in patient-response to depressive treatments may improve treatment efficacy and facilitate use of science-driven interventions. We used recent m...
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This paper provides a framework for understanding why, when, and how to adapt mindfulness-based programs (MBPs) to specific populations and contexts, based on research that developed and adapted multiple MBPs. In doing so, we hope to support teachers, researchers and innovators who are considering adapting an MBP to ensure that changes made are nec...
Preprint
Introduction. Decentering describes the ability to voluntarily adopt an objective self-perspective from which to notice internal, typically distressing, stressors (e.g. difficult thoughts, memories, and feelings). The reinforcement of this skill may be an active ingredient through which different psychological interventions accrue reductions in anx...
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The COVID-19 pandemic created stressors that raised the likelihood of elite athletes experiencing mental health problems. Understanding how individual traits promote resilience is key to offering treatments specific to this population. This prospective study explores the relationship between mindfulness skills, resilience, and athletic identity on...
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Mindfulness training (MT) is considered appropriate for school teachers and enhances well-being. Most research has investigated the efficacy of instructor-led MT. However, little is known about the benefits of using self-taught formats, nor what the key mechanisms of change are that contribute to enhanced teacher well-being. This study compared ins...
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Objectives Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) has been found effective in reducing depressive symptoms in adults suffering from recurrent depression. However, sustained recovery after MBCT is modest and may require additional, sequential treatment. Basing such additions on known working mechanisms of MBCT, like increases in (self-)compassio...
Preprint
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Negative self-bias is a detrimental vulnerability factor of recurrent depression. Here we examine the potential of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) to reduce this bias by assessing self-report and psychophysiological responses to a previously validated self-compassion exercise in individuals with recurrent depression. One group (n= 25) re...
Preprint
There is evidence that universal school-based mindfulness training (SBMT) can have positive effects for young people. However, it is unknown who benefits most from such training, how implementation quality impacts effects, and how training exerts effects. No known scoping reviews have comprehensively reviewed moderation, mediation and implementatio...
Article
Background: Despite growing evidence for the salutary effects of mindfulness-based programs (MBPs), there is limited understanding of the how, why, and for whom these programs work in the general population. To better understand these questions, one must implement design and data-analytic approaches that can elucidate potential mediators, mechanism...
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Mental health problems are relatively common during university and adversely affect academic outcomes. Evidence suggests that mindfulness can support the mental health and wellbeing of university students. We explored the acceptability and effectiveness of an 8-week instructor led mindfulness-based course (“Mindfulness: Finding Peace in a Frantic W...
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Decentering is a ubiquitous therapeutic concept featuring in multiple schools of psychological intervention and science. It describes an ability to notice to day-to-day psychological stressors (negative thoughts, feelings, and memories) from an objective self-perspective and without perseverating on the themes they represent. Thus, decentering damp...
Preprint
The ability to retrieve specific, single-incident autobiographical memories has been consistently posited as a predictor of recurrent depression. Elucidating the role of autobiographical memory specificity in patient-response to depressive treatments may improve treatment efficacy and facilitate use of science-driven interventions. We used recent m...
Article
Importance Depression frequently recurs. To prevent relapse, antidepressant medication is often taken in the long term. Sequentially delivering a psychological intervention while undergoing tapering of antidepressant medication might be an alternative to long-term antidepressant use. However, evidence is lacking on which patients may benefit from t...
Article
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Background MYRIAD (My Resilience in Adolescence) is a superiority, parallel group, cluster randomised controlled trial designed to examine the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of a mindfulness training (MT) programme, compared with normal social and emotional learning (SEL) school provision to enhance mental health, social-emotional-behavioural...
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Objective Recent studies suggest deteriorating youth mental health. The current UK policy emphasises the role of schools for mental health promotion and prevention, but little data exist on what aspects of schools explain pupils’ mental health. We explored school-level influences on the mental health of young people in a large school-based sample f...
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OBJECTIVE: Recent studies suggest deteriorating youth mental health. The current UK policy emphasises the role of schools for mental health promotion and prevention, but little data exist on what aspects of schools explain pupils' mental health. We explored school-level influences on the mental health of young people in a large school-based sample...
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Objectives: Evidence-based mindfulness programs have well established benefits, but the potential for harmful effects is understudied. We explored the frequency and severity of unpleasant experiences and harm in two nonclinical samples participating in an adaptation of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) for the general population. Methods:...
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Background/Objective Healthcare workers play a critical role in the health of a nation, yet rates of healthcare worker stress are disproportionately high. We evaluated whether mindfulness-based cognitive therapy for life (MBCT-L), could reduce stress in healthcare workers and target a range of secondary outcomes. Method: This is the first parallel...
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Background The Mindfulness-Based Interventions: Teaching Assessment Criteria (MBI:TAC) is a widely used tool for assessing fidelity in mindfulness-based program (MBP) research and training. It also supports MBP teacher reflective and skill development. MBI:TAC assessors review MBP teaching and rate the teaching on 6 domains. The MBI:TAC yields indi...
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Introduction Adolescents are particularly susceptible to social influence and previous studies have shown that this susceptibility decreases with age. The current study used a cross-sectional experimental paradigm to investigate the effect of age and puberty on susceptibility to both prosocial and antisocial influence. Methods Participants (N = 52...
Preprint
Full-text available
Background: Despite growing evidence for the salutary effects of mindfulness-based programs (MBPs), there is limited understanding of the how, why, and for whom these programs work in the general population. To better understand these questions, one must implement design and data-analytic approaches that can elucidate potential mediators, mechanism...
Article
Full-text available
Background There is growing research support for the use of mindfulness training (MT) in schools, but almost no high-quality evidence about different training models for people wishing to teach mindfulness in this setting. Effective dissemination of MT relies on the development of scalable training routes. Objective To compare 4 training routes fo...
Article
Background Affective dysregulation is central to depression. However, emotion regulation (ER) tendencies in depression remain poorly understood. It is critical, therefore, to validate measures of habitual ER in clinical populations. The current study aimed to validate the Cognitive Emotion Regulation Questionnaire (CERQ) in a sample of individuals...
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Introduction: Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy (MBCT) has been shown to reduce depressive symptoms in patients with recurrent or chronic depression. However, sequential, follow-up interventions are needed to further improve outcome for this group of patients. One possibility is to cultivate mechanisms thought to support recovery from depression,...
Preprint
Major depressive disorder is highly recurrent over the lifespan, even following successful pharmacological and/or psychological intervention. Here we investigate whether predictive modeling can be used to optimize treatment recommendations, when choosing between continuing maintenance antidepressant medication (mADM) treatment or switching to Mindf...
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There is a high prevalence of stress in the logistics sector owing to very demanding, fast-paced and unpredictable tasks. Mindfulness-based programmes may reduce stress but require considerable practice. Our aim was to evaluate the feasibility and effectiveness of a shortened, workplace-adapted, mindfulness-based programme for the logistics sector...
Article
Objectives: This study aimed to describe the recovery journeys of people with a history of recurrent depression who took part in a psychosocial programme designed to teach skills to prevent depressive relapse (mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT)), alongside maintenance antidepressant medication (ADM). Design: A qualitative study embedded...
Article
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Depression is common with a high risk of relapse/recurrence. There is evidence from multiple randomised controlled trials (RCTs) demonstrating the efficacy of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) for the prevention of depressive relapse/recurrence, and it is included in several national clinical guidelines for this purpose. However, little is...
Article
Objective: The sudden gain (SG; large symptom improvements in one between-session interval) has been identified as a consistent predictor of better outcomes at posttreatment and over follow-up in cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) for depression. Other defined trajectories of symptom change in CBT, including linear (consistent changes in depressio...
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Introduction Psychological interventions and antidepressant medication can be effective interventions to prevent depressive relapse for patients currently in remission of depression. Less is known about overall factors that predict or moderate treatment response for patients receiving a psychological intervention for recurrent depression. This is a...
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Depression co-occurs in 20% of people with cardiovascular disorders, can persist for years and predicts worse physical health outcomes. While psychosocial treatments have been shown to treat acute depression effectively in those with comorbid cardiovascular disorders, to date, there has been no evaluation of approaches aiming to prevent relapse and...
Article
Recent clinical research suggests that facilitating psychological flexibility and emotional processing and decreasing rumination and avoidance are important tasks of treatment for disorders characterized by entrenched patterns of psychopathology, such as major depressive disorder. The current study examined these processes as predictors of treatmen...
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Objectives Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) is an evidence-based approach for people at risk of depressive relapse to support their long-term recovery. However, despite its inclusion in guidelines, there is an ‘implementation cliff’. The study objective was to develop a better explanation of what facilitates MBCT implementation. Setting...
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Compassion has received increasing societal and scientific interest in recent years. The science of compassion requires a tool that can offer valid and reliable measurement of the construct to allow examination of its causes, correlates, and consequences. The current studies developed and examined the psychometric properties of new self-report meas...
Article
We explore the potential of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy, a skills-based intervention that provides participants with sustainable tools for adaptive responses to stress and negative mood, for the large group of young people with depression or anxiety who only partially or briefly respond to currently available first-line interventions. Decl...
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The benefits of empirically supported mindfulness-based programs (MBPs) are well documented, but the potential for harm has not been comprehensively studied. The available literature, although too small for a systematic review, suggests that the question of harm in MBPs needs careful attention. We argue that greater conceptual clarity will facilita...
Article
In mentally healthy individuals, autobiographical memory is typically biased toward positive events, which may help to maintain psychological well-being. Our aim was to assess a range of important positive memory biases in the mentally healthy and explore the possibility that these biases are mitigated in those with mental health problems. We admin...
Article
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Two core features of depression are elevations in negative valence system (NVS) functioning and reductions in positive valence system (PVS) functioning. Existing psychological treatments have focused on the NVS and neglected the PVS, which may contribute to sub-optimal outcomes. The present mixed methods multiple randomised baseline case series pre...
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Background While existing psychological treatments for depression are effective for many, a significant proportion of depressed individuals do not respond to current approaches and few remain well over the long-term. Anhedonia (a loss of interest or pleasure) is a core symptom of depression which predicts a poor prognosis but has been neglected by...
Article
Abstract Depression is common with a high risk of relapse/recurrence. There is evidence from multiple randomised controlled trials (RCTs) demonstrating the efficacy of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) for the prevention of depressive relapse/recurrence, and it is included in several national clinical guidelines for this purpose. However,...
Article
Full-text available
Self-compassion and its cultivation in psychological interventions are associated with improved mental health and well-being. However, the underlying processes for this are not well understood. We randomly assigned 135 participants to study the effect of two short-term self-compassion exercises on self-reported-state mood and psychophysiological re...
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This paper examined the facilitators and barriers to implementation of mindfulness training (MT) across seven secondary/high schools using a qualitative case study design. Schools varied in level of implementation. Within schools, head teachers, members of school senior leadership teams, and staff members involved in the implementation of MT were i...
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Self-compassion is natural, trainable and multi-faceted human capacity. To date there has been little research into the role of culture in influencing the conceptual structure of the underlying construct, the relative importance of different facets of self-compassion, nor its relationships to cultural values. This study employed a cross-cultural de...
Preprint
The Mindfulness-Based Interventions: Teaching Assessment Criteria (MBI:TAC) is a useful tool for supporting good practice in teaching, training supervision and research contexts. It has been taken up in practice in teacher training organizations worldwide. The MBI:TAC sits within the wider consideration for research contexts of building methodologi...
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Background Mindfulness based interventions (MBIs) are an increasingly popular way of attempting to improve the behavioural, cognitive and mental health outcomes of children and adolescents, though there is a suggestion that enthusiasm has moved ahead of the evidence base. Most evaluations of MBIs are either uncontrolled or nonrandomized trials. Thi...
Article
The Mindfulness-Based Interventions: Teaching Assessment Criteria (MBI:TAC) is a tool for supporting good practice in mindfulness-based teaching, training supervision and research contexts. It has been taken up in practice in teacher training organizations worldwide. The MBI:TAC sits within the wider consideration within research contexts of buildi...
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Full-text available
We aimed to evaluate whether mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) was feasible and acceptable for young people, their parents and the clinicians working with them; whether a parallel course for parents was a useful addition; and whether attendance at MBCT was associated with improved outcomes. The design was a mixed-method service evaluation...