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Mindfulness (N Y). 2019;10(1):46-54. doi: 10.1007/s12671-018-0945-9. Epub 2018 Apr 10.

Self-Compassion and Adherence in Five Medical Samples: the Role of Stress.

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1Department of Psychology, University of Sheffield, Cathedral Court, 1 Vicar Lane, Sheffield, S1 2LT UK.
2Department of Psychology, East Tennessee State University, Johnson City, TN USA.


Emerging evidence indicates self-compassion can be beneficial for medical populations and for medical adherence; yet, research to date has not fully examined the reasons for this association. This study examined the association of dispositional self-compassion to adherence across five medical samples and tested the extent to which perceived stress accounted for this association. Five medical samples (total N = 709), including fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, and cancer patients, recruited from various sources, completed online surveys. Self-compassion was positively associated with adherence in all five samples. A meta-analysis of the associations revealed a small average effect size (average r = .22, [0.15, 0.29]) of self-compassion and adherence and non-significant heterogeneity among the effects (Q (4) = 3.15, p = .532). A meta-analysis of the kappa2 values from the indirect effects of self-compassion on adherence revealed that, on average, 11% of the variance in medical adherence that was explained by self-compassion could be attributed to lower perceived stress. Overall, findings demonstrate that dispositional self-compassion is associated with better medical adherence among people with fibromyalgia, chronic fatigue syndrome, and cancer, due in part to lower stress. This research contributes to a growing evidence base indicating the value of self-compassion for health-related behaviours in a variety of medical populations.


Adherence; Chronic illness; Health behaviours; Self-compassion; Stress

Conflict of interest statement

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the IRB of East Tennessee State University and the Research Ethics Board at the University of Sheffield, and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

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