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Title: The role of self-compassion in adjustment following myocardial infarction
Author: Pearson, Katherine A.
Awarding Body: King's College London (University of London)
Current Institution: King's College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2013
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Background: The thesis investigated the role of self-compassion, defined as “being open to and moved by one‟s own suffering, experiencing feelings of caring and kindness toward one-self, taking an understanding, non-judgmental attitude toward one‟s own inadequacies and failures and recognising that one‟s experience is part of the common human experience” (Neff, 2003b, p. 244) in adjustment following MI. Adjustment was defined in terms of emotional, cognitive and behavioural response to MI. Previous empirical findings indicate that self-compassion confers resilience dealing with adversity (Leary, Tate, Adams, Batts Allen, & Hancock, 2007; Neff, Hsieh, & Dejitterat, 2005; Neff, Kirkpatrick, & Rude, 2007), and it has recently been hypothesised that self-compassion may be an important mechanism influencing response to health events (Terry & Leary, 2011). Method: The study sample comprised adults referred to an urban Cardiac Rehabilitation Service following MI (N= 87). Participants completed a battery of self-report questionnaires which assessed self-compassion (Self-compassion scale, SCS, Neff, 2003a), anxiety and depression (Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale, HADS, Zigmond & Snaith, 1983) , illness perceptions (Brief Illness Perception Questionnaire, Brief-IPQ, Broadbent, Petrie, Main, & Weinman, 2006) and cardiac symptoms (Ketterer et al., 2008). Cardiac function post MI was assessed using a measure of left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF). Attendance at cardiac rehabilitation (decision to opt in or out) was used as an index of behavioural adjustment. Results: As predicted, higher levels of self-compassion were associated with lower levels of anxiety (p =.001), depression (p =.01), and a reduced tendency to perceive that MI is having a negative emotional impact (p<.01), after statistically controlling for cardiac symptoms. Cardiac function was not associated with emotional adjustment following MI. Self-compassion was not associated with beliefs related to the cognitive representation of cardiac illness, after controlling for other factors. Self- compassion was not statistically significantly associated with an increased tendency to opt in to cardiac rehabilitation. Discussion: The results provide preliminary evidence which indicates that the “buffering effect” of self-compassion (observed previously in response to academic and interpersonal stressors) is also observed responding to MI (i.e. a life threatening health event). More specifically, self-compassion is associated with a reduced negative emotional impact of MI but was not associated with the cognitive representation of cardiac illness. The potential effect of self compassion upon the moment to moment processing of cardiac stimuli and adjustment to MI over time are discussed.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Clin.Psy.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available