My changed body: breast cancer, body image, distress and self-compassion

Astrid Przezdziecki, Kerry A. Sherman*, Andrew Baillie, Alan Taylor, Elizabeth Foley, Kellie Stalgis-Bilinski

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

174 Citations (Scopus)


Bodily changes after breast cancer treatment can lead to long-term distress. Self-compassion, the ability to be kind to oneself, is an internal resource that may enhance a woman's ability to adjust to cancer-related bodily changes. The aim of the present study was to test the hypothesis that self-compassion mediates the relationship between body image and distress, controlling for alternate plausible mediators.
Members of a nationwide breast cancer consumer network were invited to participate. A total of 279 women who had finished active cancer treatment completed the online survey. Assessments included the Body Image Scale; Self-compassion Scale; Depression, Anxiety and Stress Scale and items measuring perceived normative pressure and comfort with one's weight. Possible mediating effects of proposed variables on the body image–distress relationship were assessed.

Tests using a bootstrapping approach with multiple mediators were significant for self-compassion on distress. Body image disturbance was indirectly associated with distress through low self-compassion.

Body image disturbance and lower self-compassion were associated with increased psychological distress among these breast cancer survivors. This study provides preliminary evidence for a mediating role of self-compassion between body image disturbance and psychological distress, suggesting a potentially protective effect of higher levels of self-compassion for women at risk of experiencing body image disturbance.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1872-1879
Number of pages8
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2013


  • oncology
  • cancer
  • breast cancer
  • body image
  • psychological distress
  • self-compassion


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