Self-compassion in patients with persistent musculoskeletal pain: relationship of self-compassion to adjustment to persistent pain

J Pain Symptom Manage. 2012 Apr;43(4):759-70. doi: 10.1016/j.jpainsymman.2011.04.014. Epub 2011 Nov 8.


Context: Self-compassion entails qualities such as kindness and understanding toward oneself in difficult circumstances and may influence adjustment to persistent pain. Self-compassion may be a particularly influential factor in pain adjustment for obese individuals who suffer from persistent pain, as they often experience heightened levels of pain and lower levels of psychological functioning.

Objectives: The purpose of the present study was to examine the relationship of self-compassion to pain, psychological functioning, pain coping, and disability among patients who have persistent musculoskeletal pain and who are obese.

Methods: Eighty-eight obese patients with persistent pain completed a paper-and-pencil self-report assessment measure before or after their appointment with their anesthesiologist.

Results: Hierarchical linear regression analyses demonstrated that even after controlling for important demographic variables, self-compassion was a significant predictor of negative affect (β=-0.48, P<0.001), positive affect (β=0.29, P=0.01), pain catastrophizing (β=-0.32, P=0.003), and pain disability (β=-0.24, P<0.05).

Conclusion: The results of this study indicate that self-compassion may be important in explaining the variability in pain adjustment among patients who have persistent musculoskeletal pain and are obese.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Arthralgia / epidemiology*
  • Arthralgia / psychology*
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Chronic Disease
  • Comorbidity
  • Disabled Persons / psychology
  • Disabled Persons / statistics & numerical data
  • Empathy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • North Carolina / epidemiology
  • Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Obesity / psychology*
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Self-Assessment*
  • Stress, Psychological