Self-compassion in somatoform disorder

Psychiatry Res. 2018 Apr:262:34-39. doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2017.12.013. Epub 2017 Dec 9.


'Third wave' cognitive-behavioral therapies have given a boost to the study of resilience factors, such as self-compassion. To get an indication of the potential clinical relevance of self-compassion for somatoform disorder, this study examined whether self-compassion in patients with somatoform disorder is lower than in the general population, and whether self-compassion is associated with number of symptoms and health-related quality of life. Two-hundred-and-thirty-six participants with somatoform disorder and 236 subjects from the general population, matched on sex and age, filled out questionnaires regarding self-compassion (SCS), number of symptoms (PSC) and health-related quality of life (EQ-5D). The difference in self-compassion between the patient group (Mean 3.53, SD .96) and the general population (Mean 4.16, SD .98) was significant with a medium effect size (d = -.65). Multiple regression analyses showed that having a somatoform disorder and low self-compassion were independently associated with number of symptoms and reduced health-related quality of life. The lower level of self-compassion in somatoform disorder and its association with more physical symptoms and lower health-related quality of life, indicate that self-compassion is a potential clinically relevant factor that may influence therapy outcome and that can be a therapeutic target in patients with somatoform disorder.

Keywords: Cognitive-behavioral therapy; Common humanity; Health-related quality of life; Mindfulness; Physical symptoms; Self-kindness; Somatic symptom disorder.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Empathy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Quality of Life / psychology
  • Self Concept*
  • Somatoform Disorders / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires