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The prospective effects of self-compassion on depressive symptoms, anxiety, and stress: A study in inflammatory bowel disease

Trindade, Inês A.; Sirois, Fuschia M.


Inês A. Trindade


To date, research with people with inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) has only examined how self-compassion is linked with stress, and have exclusively used cross-sectional designs. This study aims to examine the associations of self-compassion with depressive symptoms, anxiety, and stress in people with IBD over time.

Participants were 155 adults with IBD who completed the SCS and the DASS-21 at two different times, spaced 9 months apart. The study design is longitudinal: three separate hierarchical regression models were conducted to examine whether self-compassion at baseline predicted depressive symptoms, anxiety, and stress measured at follow-up, while controlling for the effects of baseline IBD symptomatology and the respective outcome.

Participants who had IBD for a longer period of time presented higher levels of self-compassion. Self-compassion at baseline predicted lower follow-up levels of depressive symptoms (β = −0.17, p = 0.015), anxiety (β = −0.15, p = 0.032), and stress (β = −0.26, p = 0.001), even in the presence of baseline levels of IBD symptomatology and the outcome. Isolation (as opposed to common humanity) was the most relevant self-compassion component for explaining higher depression levels, while the mindfulness component was important for explaining lower anxiety and stress.

This study is the first to demonstrate the prospective effects of self-compassion on mental health indicators in IBD. Given these findings, and previous evidence on the high comorbidity of depression and anxiety and frequent self-report of illness shame and self-criticism in this population, compassion-based interventions may be particularly beneficial for improving well-being in people with IBD.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Mar 13, 2021
Online Publication Date Mar 20, 2021
Publication Date 2021
Deposit Date Jul 4, 2022
Journal Journal of Psychosomatic Research
Print ISSN 0022-3999
Publisher Elsevier
Volume 146
Public URL