Mindfulness, Self-Compassion, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Symptoms, and Functional Disability in U.S. Iraq and Afghanistan War Veterans

J Trauma Stress. 2015 Oct;28(5):460-4. doi: 10.1002/jts.22045. Epub 2015 Oct 1.


Mindfulness and self-compassion are overlapping, but distinct constructs that characterize how people relate to emotional distress. Both are associated with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and may be related to functional disability. Although self-compassion includes mindful awareness of emotional distress, it is a broader construct that also includes being kind and supportive to oneself and viewing suffering as part of the shared human experience--a potentially powerful way of dealing with distressing situations. We examined the association of mindfulness and self-compassion with PTSD symptom severity and functional disability in 115 trauma-exposed U.S. Iraq/Afghanistan war veterans. Mindfulness and self-compassion were each uniquely, negatively associated with PTSD symptom severity. After accounting for mindfulness, self-compassion accounted for unique variance in PTSD symptom severity (f(2) = .25; medium ES). After accounting for PTSD symptom severity, mindfulness and self-compassion were each uniquely negatively associated with functional disability. The combined association of mindfulness and self-compassion with disability over and above PTSD was large (f(2) = .41). After accounting for mindfulness, self-compassion accounted for unique variance in disability (f(2) = .13; small ES). These findings suggest that interventions aimed at increasing mindfulness and self-compassion could potentially decrease functional disability in returning veterans with PTSD symptoms.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Afghan Campaign 2001-
  • Empathy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Iraq War, 2003-2011
  • Male
  • Mindfulness*
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Regression Analysis
  • Self Care / methods
  • Self Care / psychology*
  • Self Report
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / therapy
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States
  • Veterans / psychology*