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

    188 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Background
    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.
    Methods
    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.

    Results
    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.

    Conclusions
    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
    JournalPsycho-Oncology
    Volume22
    Issue number8
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Aug 2013

    Keywords

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

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