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Predictors of self-compassion in endometriosis: the role of psychological health and endometriosis symptom burden

journal contribution
posted on 2023-05-21, 04:21 authored by Leesa Van NiekerkLeesa Van Niekerk, Johnstone, L, Mandy MatthewsonMandy Matthewson

STUDY QUESTION:What is the relationship between self-compassion, endometriosis-related symptoms and psychological health in women with symptomatic endometriosis?

SUMMARY ANSWER: Decreased self-compassion is associated with increased psychological distress, extended diagnostic delay and varies according to individual endometriosis-symptom profile.

WHAT IS KNOWN ALREADY: Existing research indicates that endometriosis is associated with reduced psychological health and varied endometriosis-related symptom profiles. Examining the level of self-compassion reported by women with endometriosis is important as greater self-compassion has been found to improve psychological well-being in several chronic health populations.

STUDY DESIGN, SIZE, DURATION: This study utilized a cross-sectional survey design to explore the relationship between selfcompassion, psychological health and endometriosis-related symptoms (n ¼ 318).

PARTICIPANTS/MATERIALS, SETTING, METHODS: Women with a self-reported diagnosis of endometriosis were recruited via online advertising through social media platforms. Demographic and endometriosis-specific information (e.g. disease stage, diagnostic delay, symptom experience) was collected in addition to psychological health and self-compassion. Psychological health was measured by the PROMIS Emotional Distress and Anxiety short forms and the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-15). Self-compassion was measured by the Self-Compassion Scale (26-item). Independent t-tests, bivariate correlations and linear regression analyses explored the relationship between specific endometriosis-related symptoms, psychological health and self-compassion.

MAIN RESULTS AND THE ROLE OF CHANCE: Hierarchical multiple regression indicated that psychological symptoms accounted for the greatest variance in levels of self-compassion in the current sample. Depression and anxiety were found to be significant negative predictors of self-compassion. Notable symptoms that were significant in the final model were the presence of dysmenorrhea, lower back pain, dyspareunia, pain after sexual intercourse, fatigue and nausea.

LIMITATIONS, REASONS FOR CAUTION: The cross-sectional nature of the findings prevents direct findings of causality. The information pertaining to endometriosis was self-report in nature and was not medically verified.

WIDER IMPLICATIONS OF THE FINDINGS: These preliminary findings indicate the importance of clinical interventions aimed at enhancing self-compassion and the importance of individual case conceptualization and treatment planning based on endometriosis-related symptomatic profiles.


Publication title

Human Reproduction






School of Psychological Sciences


Oxford Univ Press

Place of publication

Great Clarendon St, Oxford, England, Ox2 6Dp

Rights statement

Copyright 2021 the authors.

Repository Status

  • Restricted

Socio-economic Objectives

Human pain management; Mental health services; Women's and maternal health

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