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Psychometric Properties of the Five Facets Mindfulness Questionnaire in Moderate-to-Severe, Persistent Depression



Mindfulness has been increasingly incorporated into modern psychotherapies and healthcare services. The importance of psychometrically quantifying the construct of mindfulness has become paramount. One of the most reliable and valid instruments for the assessment of different aspects of dispositional mindfulness is the Five Facets Mindfulness Questionnaire (FFMQ). However, the psychometric properties of the FFMQ are yet to be tested in individuals with high levels of persistent depression. This study therefore investigated the psychometric properties of the FFMQ in a clinical sample with moderate-to-severe, persistent depression.


The data of 187 participants recruited from a funded randomised controlled trial were utilised. Internal consistency was assessed and construct validity was examined with confirmatory factor analyses (CFA) and by statistically correlating the FFMQ to measures of depression, self-compassion, rumination and experiential avoidance.


Findings supported the internal consistency of the FFMQ. CFA fit indices indicated that all correlated and hierarchical models fitted the data acceptably, with results slightly favouring the correlated model. Contrary to predictions however, individual facet loadings showed that the facet Observe loaded strongly onto an overarching factor of mindfulness, whilst Nonjudge loaded marginally. Nonjudge further showed a non-significant correlation with depression. However, exploratory post hoc analysis presented findings inconsistent with CFA.


In a sample of severely depressed individuals, psychometric investigation of the validity of the FFMQ highlighted contradictory findings relating to “Nonjudge”. Whilst such findings potentially challenge the validity of the FFMQ for use in its current structure in this sample, further investigation with a larger population is warranted.

Trial Registration (NCT01047124) and the ISRCTN registry (ISRCTN10963342)

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Members of the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care (CLAHRC) Specialist Mood Disorder Study Group who made important contributions to this study were Anne Garland, Cath Kaylor-Hughes, Neil Nixon, Jayne Simpson, Sandra Simpson and Min Yang. We acknowledge the help and support of the NIHR Clinical Research Network Mental Health in the east Midlands and east of England, and the University of Nottingham for providing sponsorship and Clinical Trials Unit support for the CLAHRC trial.


The study was funded by the NIHR CLAHRC East Midlands (previously CLAHRC Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire, and Lincolnshire, and CLAHRC Leicestershire, Northamptonshire, and Rutland); NIHR CLAHRC east of England (previously the NIHR CLAHRC Cambridgeshire and Peterborough); the UK Medical Research Council; Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust; and the Derbyshire Healthcare Foundation Trust.

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Authors and Affiliations



TS designed the study protocol and carried out the data analyses and writing of the paper. RM led the RCT from which data for this study were drawn and oversaw the study design and data analysis. EN was involved in data analysis and oversaw the paper write-up. BG oversaw the analytical design and heavily contributed to the data analysis and interpretation. PC oversaw the study design and data analysis. All authors reviewed and approved the final version of the manuscript for submission.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Timothy Sweeney.

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Conflict of Interest

TS has been employed as the MBCT clinical lead for Nottinghamshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust (NHC). NHC contributed to funding the CLAHRC project from which study data was drawn. BG was the CLAHRC study statistician. RM was the Primary Investigator for the CLAHRC Specialist Depression Project, funded by the NIHR CLAHRC East Midlands; NIHR CLAHRC east of England; the UK Medical Research Council; and the Derbyshire Healthcare Foundation Trust. PC and EN declare no conflicts of interest.

Ethical Approval

The authors assert that all procedures contributing to this work comply with the ethical standards of the relevant national and institutional committees on human experimentation and with the Helsinki Declaration of 1975, as revised in 2008. The University of Derby provided the institutional review board (IRB) approval for this study.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

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Sweeney, T., Morriss, R., Nixon, E. et al. Psychometric Properties of the Five Facets Mindfulness Questionnaire in Moderate-to-Severe, Persistent Depression. Mindfulness 12, 1009–1021 (2021).

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  • Mindfulness
  • Psychometric properties
  • Five Facets Mindfulness Questionnaire
  • Depression