Trauma-specific mindfulness-based cognitive therapy for women with post-traumatic stress disorder and a history of domestic abuse: intervention refinement and a randomised feasibility trial (coMforT study)

Natalia Lewis*, Alison C Gregory, Gene S Feder, Aishlyn Angill-Williams, Sophie Bates, Joel Glynn, Gemma Halliwell , Claire S Hawcroft, David S Kessler, Michael A Lawton, Rwth P Leach, Sarah Millband, Kate S Pitt, Stanley Zammit, Alice Malpass

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review


Background: Women who have experienced domestic violence and abuse (DVA) are at increased risk of developing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and complex PTSD (CPTSD). In 2014-15, we developed a prototype trauma-specific mindfulness-based cognitive therapy curriculum (TS-MBCT) for the treatment of PTSD in a DVA population. This study aimed to refine the prototype TS-MBCT and evaluate the feasibility of conducting a randomised controlled trial (RCT) testing its effectiveness and cost-effectiveness.

Methods: Intervention refinement phase was informed by evidence synthesis from a literature review, qualitative interviews with professionals and DVA survivors, and a consensus exercise with experts in trauma and mindfulness. We tested the refined TS-MBCT intervention in an individually randomised parallel group feasibility trial with pre-specified progression criteria, a traffic light system, and embedded process and health economics evaluations.

Results: The TS-MBCT intervention consisted of eight group sessions and home practice. We screened 109 women in a DVA agency and recruited 20 (15 TS-MBCT, 5 self-referral to National Health Service (NHS) psychological treatment), with 80% follow-up at 6 months. Our TS-MBCT intervention had 73% uptake, 100% retention, and high acceptability. Participants suggested recruitment via multiple agencies, and additional safety measures. Randomisation into the NHS control arm did not work due to long waiting lists and previous negative experiences. Three self-administered PTSD/CPTSD questionnaires produced differing outcomes thus a clinician administered measure might work better. We met six out of nine feasibility progression criteria at green and three at amber targets demonstrating that it is possible to conduct a full-size RCT of the TS-MBCT intervention after making minor amendments to recruitment and randomisation procedures, the control intervention, primary outcomes measures, and intervention content. At 6 months, none of the PTSD/CPTSD outcomes ruled out a clinically important difference between trial arms indicating that it is reasonable to proceed to a full-size RCT to estimate these outcomes with greater precision.

Conclusions: A future RCT of the coMforT TS-MBCT intervention should have an internal pilot, recruit from multiple DVA agencies, NHS and non-NHS settings, have an active control psychological treatment, use robust randomisation and safety procedures, and clinician-administered measures for PTSD/CPTSD.

Original languageEnglish
Article number112
JournalPilot and Feasibility Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jul 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was funded by the National Institute for Health and Care Research Bristol Biomedical Research Centre. AG received fellowship funding from Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire Clinical Commissioning Group. KP and CH were funded by NIHR Academic Clinical Fellowship. The views expressed are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the NIHR or the Department of Health and Social Care.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023, The Author(s).

Structured keywords

  • HEHP@Bristol


Dive into the research topics of 'Trauma-specific mindfulness-based cognitive therapy for women with post-traumatic stress disorder and a history of domestic abuse: intervention refinement and a randomised feasibility trial (coMforT study)'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this