The relationship between self-blame, self-compassion and psychological well-being for individuals living with chronic physical health conditions

Glover, Leah

Clinical psychology
June 2015

Thesis or dissertation

© 2015 Leah Glover. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the copyright holder.

This portfolio thesis is comprised of three parts: a systematic literature review, an empirical paper and a set of supporting appendices.

Part one is a systematic literature review that summarises and critically appraises eleven studies exploring the relationship between self-blame for the onset of a chronic physical health condition and emotional distress. As inconsistent perspectives have been noted regarding the relationship between self-blame and psychological adjustment to illness, with some suggesting self-blame to be beneficial and others suggesting a detrimental impact, the aim of this review was to clarify the nature of this relationship when self-blame for illness onset is measured appropriately. It is important for professionals to recognise the factors that may be associated with increased distress for people with chronic physical health conditions so that appropriate support can be offered to maintain and improve their quality of life and long-term physical health.

Part two presents an empirical study that explores the relationship between feelings of personal responsibility for illness onset, self-compassion and symptoms of anxiety and depression, as self-reported by people with a diagnosis of cancer. A wealth of research supports the association between self-compassion and psychological well-being, particularly when people are self-critical or self-blaming. However, few studies have explored these benefits for people with chronic physical health conditions who can feel personally responsible for causing their condition and may therefore be more vulnerable to experiencing self-blame and emotional distress. This study was the first to investigate the potential for self-compassion to buffer against the negative emotions associated with feeling responsible for cancer onset. This investigation therefore aimed to support the potential for self-compassion enhancing psychological interventions to benefit people with cancer who may feel responsible for their diagnosis and who may be experiencing symptoms of anxiety and depression. Recognising appropriate psychological interventions for this population of people is essential for promoting well-being, quality of life and long-term physical health.

Part three contains appendices that support both sections one and two.

Department of Psychological Health and Wellbeing, The University of Hull
Molyneux, Philip (Clinical psychologist); Alexander, Tim (Clinical psychologist)
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