Is mindfulness-based stress reduction noninferior to escitalopram for the treatment of anxiety disorders?
In this randomized clinical trial of 276 adults with anxiety disorders, 8-week treatment with mindfulness-based stress reduction was noninferior to escitalopram.
In this study, mindfulness-based stress reduction was a well-tolerated treatment option with comparable effectiveness to a first-line medication for patients with anxiety disorders.
Anxiety disorders are common, highly distressing, and impairing conditions. Effective treatments exist, but many patients do not access or respond to them. Mindfulness-based interventions, such as mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) are popular and can decrease anxiety, but it is unknown how they compare to standard first-line treatments.
To determine whether MBSR is noninferior to escitalopram, a commonly used first-line psychopharmacological treatment for anxiety disorders.
Design, Setting, and Participants
This randomized clinical trial (Treatments for Anxiety: Meditation and Escitalopram [TAME]) included a noninferiority design with a prespecified noninferiority margin. Patients were recruited between June 2018 and February 2020. The outcome assessments were performed by blinded clinical interviewer at baseline, week 8 end point, and follow-up visits at 12 and 24 weeks. Of 430 individuals assessed for inclusion, 276 adults with a diagnosed anxiety disorder from 3 urban academic medical centers in the US were recruited for the trial, and 208 completed the trial.
Participants were 1:1 randomized to 8 weeks of the weekly MBSR course or the antidepressant escitalopram, flexibly dosed from 10 to 20 mg.
Main Outcomes and Measures
The primary outcome measure was anxiety levels as assessed with the Clinical Global Impression of Severity scale (CGI-S), with a predetermined noninferiority margin of −0.495 points.
The primary noninferiority sample consisted of 208 patients (102 in MBSR and 106 in escitalopram), with a mean (SD) age of 33 (13) years; 156 participants (75%) were female; 32 participants (15%) were African American, 41 (20%) were Asian, 18 (9%) were Hispanic/Latino, 122 (59%) were White, and 13 (6%) were of another race or ethnicity (including Native American or Alaska Native, more than one race, or other, consolidated owing to low numbers). Baseline mean (SD) CGI-S score was 4.44 (0.79) for the MBSR group and 4.51 (0.78) for the escitalopram group in the per-protocol sample and 4.49 (0.77) vs 4.54 (0.83), respectively, in the randomized sample. At end point, the mean (SD) CGI-S score was reduced by 1.35 (1.06) for MBSR and 1.43 (1.17) for escitalopram. The difference between groups was −0.07 (0.16; 95% CI, −0.38 to 0.23; P = .65), where the lower bound of the interval fell within the predefined noninferiority margin of −0.495, indicating noninferiority of MBSR compared with escitalopram. Secondary intent-to-treat analyses using imputed data also showed the noninferiority of MBSR compared with escitalopram based on the improvement in CGI-S score. Of patients who started treatment, 10 (8%) dropped out of the escitalopram group and none from the MBSR group due to adverse events. At least 1 study-related adverse event occurred for 110 participants randomized to escitalopram (78.6%) and 21 participants randomized to MBSR (15.4%).
Conclusions and Relevance
The results from this randomized clinical trial comparing a standardized evidence-based mindfulness-based intervention with pharmacotherapy for the treatment of anxiety disorders found that MBSR was noninferior to escitalopram.
ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT03522844
Hoge EA, Bui E, Mete M, Dutton MA, Baker AW, Simon NM. Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction vs Escitalopram for the Treatment of Adults With Anxiety Disorders: A Randomized Clinical Trial. JAMA Psychiatry. 2023;80(1):13–21. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2022.3679
Artificial Intelligence Resource Center
Customize your JAMA Network experience by selecting one or more topics from the list below.