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Papers of the Week

Papers: 22 Aug 2020 - 28 Aug 2020


Human Studies

2020 Aug 24

Scand J Pain

Above and beyond emotional suffering: the unique contribution of self-compassion and its qualities in chronic pain.


Carvalho SA, Pinto-Gouveia J, Gillanders D, Lapa T, Valentim A, Santos E, Paciência J, Castilho P
Scand J Pain. 2020 Aug 24.
PMID: 32841171.


Objectives Studies have shown that self-compassion plays a protective role against depression in women with chronic pain (CP). However, the majority of studies in CP have used the total score of the self-compassion scale (SCS), which have raised concerns due to potential overlap, not only between the uncompassionate self-responding factors and psychopathology, but also between self-compassion as a whole and other well-known psychological processes (e.g., mindfulness, acceptance, psychological flexibility). This calls for a more nuanced understanding of which components of (un)compassionate self-responding adds to better mental health in CP. Methods This study explores the unique contribution of compassionate and uncompassionate self-responding to depressive symptoms in women with CP undergoing pain consultation (n = 49). Results Correlation analyses suggest that compassionate self-responding only significantly correlates with progress in valued living, while the uncompassionate self-responding significantly correlates with pain fusion, pain avoidance, obstructions to valued living and depression. Multiple regression analysis showed that self-compassion contributes to depressive symptoms (R2 = 8%) above and beyond pain intensity and disability (R2 = 12%) and psychological (in) flexibility processes (R2 = 31%), and uncompassionate (but not compassionate) self-responding uniquely contributes to depressive symptoms (sr 2  = 18%). Conclusions Findings suggest that uncompassionate self-responding is a stronger contributor to depression in CP than compassionate self-responding. Clinical implications are further discussed.