The relation of self‐compassion to functioning among adults with chronic pain

Karlyn A. Edwards, Melissa Pielech, Jayne Hickman, Julie Ashworth, Gail Sowden, Kevin E. Vowles

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Previous research has shown that self‐compassion is associated with improved functioning and health outcomes among multiple chronic illnesses. However, the role of self‐compassion in chronic pain‐related functioning is understudied. The present study sought to understand the association between self‐compassion and important measures of functioning within a sample of patients with chronic pain. Methods: Treatment‐seeking individuals (N = 343 with chronic pain) that were mostly White (97.9%) and female (71%) completed a battery of assessments that included the Self‐Compassion Scale (SCS), as well as measures of pain‐related fear, depression, disability, pain acceptance, success in valued activity and use of pain coping strategies. Results: Cross‐sectional multiple regression analyses that controlled for age, sex, pain intensity and pain duration, revealed that self‐compassion accounted for a significant and unique amount of variance in all measures of functioning (r2 range: 0.07–0.32, all p < 0.001). Beta weights indicated that higher self‐compassion was associated with lower pain‐related fear, depression and disability, as well as greater pain acceptance, success in valued activities and utilization of pain coping strategies. Conclusions: These findings suggest that self‐compassion may be a relevant adaptive process in those with chronic pain. Targeted interventions to improve self‐compassion in those with chronic pain may be useful. Significance: Self‐compassion is associated with better functioning across multiple general and pain‐specific outcomes, with the strongest associations among measures related to psychological functioning and valued living. These findings indicate that self‐compassion may be an adaptive process that could minimize the negative impact of chronic pain on important areas of life.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1538-1547
JournalEuropean Journal of Pain
Issue number8
Early online date11 Jun 2019
Publication statusPublished - 01 Sep 2019


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