The ASPIRE Project

Accessibility and implementation in UK services of an effective depression relapse prevention programme: Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy

View the published study protocol

The project and its aims:

Mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT)  is a cost effective psychosocial prevention programme that helps people with recurrent depression stay well in the long term. It was singled out in the 2009 National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) Depression Guideline as a key priority for implementation.

The research has two main aims:

  1. To scope current MBCT practice across the UK.
  2. To develop a set of key recommendations for introducing Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy into health service delivery.


Interviews will be conducted with stakeholders involved in commissioning, managing and implementing MBCT services in each of the four UK countries, and will include interviews with stakeholders in areas where MBCT services are being implemented successfully and where implementation is not working well.

In depth case studies will be undertaken on a range of MBCT services to develop a detailed understanding of the barriers and facilitators to implementation.

The information from this work will be used to inform the development of an implementation plan which will include a range of methods to address implementation barriers.

Even if a psychosocial intervention has compelling aims, has been shown to work, has a clear theory-driven mechanism of action, is cost-effective and is recommended by a government advisory body, its value is determined by how widely available it is in the health service.

Crane/Kuyken 2013

© B Mellor, Picture from Nature.



Further information about the study:

The study runs from November 2013 to September 2016.

Please find further relevant publications here:

The project is funded by the National Institute of Health Research (NIHR) Health Services and Delivery Research Programme (HS&DR - 12/64/187), managed by The NIHR Evaluation, Trials and Studies Coordinating Centre (NETSCC) in Southampton. Details of the grant can be found here

The research team

The research will be co-led by Professors Jo Rycroft-Malone (Bangor University) and Willem Kuyken (Exeter University). Professor Stewart Mercer (Glasgow University), Andy Gibson ( Exeter) and Rebecca Crane (Bangor University) are co-investigators.

Chief Investigators



The project management group is supported by an independent project advisory group and a panel of members of the public with lived experience of depression or MBCT, illustrated in the governance structure below:

Aspire governance structure

Contact us:

Dr Felix Gradinger (University of Exeter)

Research Fellow

Phone: 01392 726124

Heledd Owen (Bangor University)

Research Project Support Officer

Phone: 01248 388684