Self-compassion and fear of cancer recurrence in Chinese breast cancer patients: The mediating role of maladaptive cognitive styles

Psychooncology. 2022 Dec;31(12):2185-2192. doi: 10.1002/pon.6070. Epub 2022 Nov 27.


Objectives: Previous studies have examined the benefits of self-compassion for psychological symptoms in breast cancer patients; however, little is known about the role of self-compassion for patients' fear of cancer recurrence (FCR) as well as the underlying mediating mechanisms. This study aimed to examine the effect of self-compassion on FCR, and whether maladaptive cognitive styles mediate this relationship.

Methods: This cross-sectional study included 304 females with breast cancer. A self-report questionnaire was used to assess patients' self-compassion, maladaptive cognitive styles (i.e., rumination and catastrophising), and FCR. Parallel mediation analyses were conducted to examine the research questions.

Results: Approximately half of the patients with breast cancer reported elevated levels of FCR. Self-compassion was negatively related to FCR, and the relationship between self-compassion and FCR was mediated by catastrophising, whereas rumination did not significantly mediate the relationship between self-compassion and FCR.

Conclusions: Our findings suggest that self-compassion and catastrophising are closely associated with FCR in patients with breast cancer, and catastrophising is a mediator between self-compassion and FCR. Clinicians could reduce breast cancer patients' FCR by enhancing their self-compassion and improving their maladaptive cognitive styles.

Keywords: cancer; catastrophising; fear of cancer recurrence; maladaptive cognitive style; oncology; rumination; self-compassion.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Breast Neoplasms* / psychology
  • China
  • Cognition
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Fear
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Self-Compassion

Supplementary concepts

  • Phobia, Specific