Third-Wave Therapies for Long-Term Neurological Conditions: A Systematic Review to Evaluate the Status and Quality of Evidence

Paula Robinson, Ailsa Russell, Leon Dysch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (SciVal)
207 Downloads (Pure)


Background: Adults with long-term neurological conditions can face complex challenges including anxiety and depression. Emerging research suggests the utility of third-wave approaches (the third development of psychotherapies) in working transdiagnostically with these difficulties. Aims: This systematic review sought to summarise and appraise the quality of published empirical studies using third-wave therapies such as Compassion Focused Therapy; Acceptance and Commitment Therapy; and Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy or Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction. Method: Review procedures followed PRISMA guidelines, with 437 abstracts screened, 24 full-text articles retrieved and 19 studies found to meet inclusion criteria. Six out of seven randomised studies had unclear or high risk of bias, whilst the majority of non-randomised studies were considered moderate quality. Results: Overall, studies reported a statistically significant reduction in emotional distress. Of the 13 studies that used model-specific process measures, 10 found statistically significant improvements in transdiagnostic factors. Discussion: The findings indicate that third-wave therapies show promise in addressing transdiagnostic difficulties within neurological conditions. A number of methodological and conceptual issues for the included studies were highlighted during the quality appraisal process. Clinical implications include consideration of intervention length and use of outcome measures. Research implications are discussed by considering the progressive stages of development for behavioural treatments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)58-80
Number of pages23
JournalBrain Impairment
Issue number1
Early online date13 Feb 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2019


  • KeywordsThird-wave therapies
  • acceptance and commitment therapy
  • mindfulness
  • neurological condition
  • systematic review
  • transdiagnostic

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience
  • Speech and Hearing


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