The transportability of Memory Specificity Training (MeST): Adapting an intervention derived from experimental psychology to routine clinical practices

Kris Martens, Tom J. Barry, Keisuke Takano, Filip Raes

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3 Citations (SciVal)


Background: Accumulating evidence shows that a cognitive factor associated with a worsening of depressive symptoms amongst people with and without diagnoses of depression - reduced Autobiographical Memory (rAMS) - can be ameliorated by a group cognitive training protocol referred to as Memory Specificity Training (MeST). When transporting interventions such as MeST from research to routine clinical practices (RCPs), modifications are inevitable, with potentially a decrease in effectiveness, so called voltage drop. We examined the transportability of MeST to RCPs as an add-on to treatment as usual with depressed in- and out- patients. Methods: We examined whether 1) MeST was adaptable to local needs of RCPs by implementing MeST in a joint decision-making process in seven Belgian RCPs 2) without losing its effect on rAMS. The effectiveness of MeST was measured by pre- and post- intervention measurements of memory specificity. Results: Adaptations were made to the MeST protocol to optimize the fit with RCPs. Local needs of RCPs were met by dismantling MeST into different subparts. By dismantling it in this way, we were able to address several challenges raised by clinicians. In particular, multidisciplinary teams could divide the workload across different team members and, for the open version of MeST, the intervention could be offered continuously with tailored dosing per patient. Both closed and open versions of MeST, with or without peripheral components, and delivered by health professionals with different backgrounds, resulted in a significant increase in memory specificity for depressed in- and out- patients in RCPs. Conclusions: MeST is shown to be a transportable and adaptable add-on intervention which effectively maintains its core mechanism when delivered in RCPs. Trial registration: ISRCTN registry, IDISRCTN10144349, registered on January 22, 2019. Retrospectively registered.

Original languageEnglish
Article number5
JournalBMC Psychology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2019


  • Adaptability
  • Autobiographical memory
  • Memory specificity training
  • Transportability

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)


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