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Title: The relationship between self-compassion and stress, and the role of self-compassion in psoriasis, stress, and treatment adherence
Author: Perry, Laura
ISNI:       0000 0004 7972 0093
Awarding Body: University of Sheffield
Current Institution: University of Sheffield
Date of Award: 2019
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Self-compassion is a positive way of relating to oneself. Self-compassion involves self-kindness, recognising that difficulties are part of being human, and being present and non-judgemental regarding one's thoughts and feelings. Self-compassion is associated with reduced stress, yet there has been no study which assesses the magnitude of this relationship. In the first part of the thesis, a meta-analysis was conducted to achieve this. The meta-analysis combined the results of 26 studies with 37 effect sizes, finding that self-compassion has a medium inverse relationship with objective stress, measured through bodily responses, and a large inverse relationship with subjective perceived stress, measured through self-report questionnaires. The meta-analysis also found that self-compassion relates to reduced stress equally in clinical and non-clinical populations, and that gender and age do not influence the magnitude of this relationship. Whilst self-compassion is a trait that is in part developed in childhood, it can be cultivated through psychological interventions. Psychological interventions aimed at cultivating self-compassion, if successful in this, could be beneficial in reducing stress, particularly self-reported perceived stress. Psoriasis is a skin condition that can be influenced by stress. Stress is of particular relevance in psoriasis as it is associated with inflammation and maladaptive health behaviours, including poor treatment adherence, which increase the severity of psoriasis and associated itchiness. In the second part of the thesis, a research study was conducted to investigate the relationships between self-compassion, perceived stress, treatment adherence, and psoriasis severity and itch severity in participants with psoriasis. Participants were then randomly allocated to complete either a brief online self-compassionate writing intervention, or an active control condition. There was a large inverse relationship between self-compassion and perceived stress. There was a small relationship between self-compassion and treatment adherence. There were small inverse relationships between self-compassion and psoriasis severity, and itch severity. The relationship between self-compassion and itch severity was found to be in part explained by perceived stress. The brief online self-compassionate writing intervention had a small effect in cultivating state self-compassion, but there were no changes in self-compassion, perceived stress, treatment adherence, psoriasis severity, or itch severity at a four-week follow-up that could be attributed to the effects of the brief online self-compassionate writing intervention. The results of the research study add to the evidence that self-compassion is associated with reduced stress and increased treatment adherence in the context of physical health. Further research is needed to investigate the potential benefits of psychological interventions aimed at cultivating self-compassion in this area.
Supervisor: Sirois, Fuschia ; Thompson, Andrew Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (D.Clin.Psy.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available