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Title: The role of trait self-compassion as a moderator of the relationship between subjective memory impairment and psychological distress in older adults
Author: Toop, H.
ISNI:       0000 0004 7654 8283
Awarding Body: University of Exeter
Current Institution: University of Exeter
Date of Award: 2019
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Introduction: Subjective memory impairment (SMI) refers to the perception of memory difficulties in the absence of objective memory impairment. SMI is a relatively common phenomenon in later life, affecting 43-77% of people over the age 65 years (Larrabee & Crook, 1994). Experience of SMI is associated with psychological distress, e.g., SMI is predictive of symptoms of depression and anxiety (Hurt, Burns, & Barrowclaugh, 2011). Previous research has suggested that self-compassion is positively associated with aspects of well-being in older adults (Phillips & Ferguson, 2012) and has been found to moderate the relationship between subjective physical health and subjective well-being (Allen, Goldwasser & Leary, 2012). Objective: The aim of the study was to extend the research of Allen, Goldwasser and Leary (2012) and investigate whether self-compassion moderates the relationship between subjective memory impairment and memory-related psychological distress in older adults. Methods: A cross-sectional correlational design was used to examine relationships between SMI, psychological distress and trait self-compassion, while controlling for depression and anxiety. A sample of 71 adults over the age of 60 years completed a series of questionnaires to measure the constructs of interest. The Addenbrooke's Cognitive Examination - 3 (Hsieh, Shubert, Hoon, Mioshi, & Hodges, 2013) was used to verify that cognitive functioning was in a normal range for the participant's age. Results: Self-reported psychological distress was significantly positively associated with SMI (r = .51, n = 69, p < .01). The hypothesis that trait self-compassion moderates the relationship between SMI and psychological distress was unsupported (b = .01, t(63) = .51, p = .61). A second, exploratory model, was found to be the best fit for the data, explaining 49% of the variance in memory-related psychological distress. The main effect of Self-Judgement (a subscale of the Self-Compassion Scale) made a significant contribution to explained variance (b = -2.50, t(63) = -3.07 p = .003), however the interaction between Self-Judgement and SMI was non-significant. Conclusion: Self-compassion (specifically self-judgement), does partially explain memory-related distress, even when general levels of anxiety and depression are controlled for. It is not possible to unequivocally say that there is no moderation effect due to the limitations of the sample size, however any effect (if one does exist) is likely to be small and require a very large sample size to detect.
Supervisor: Karl, A. ; Smith, A. Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Subjective cognitive impairment ; Subjective memory impairment ; Memory ; Older adults ; Self-compassion