• Self-compassion in young people coping with inflammatory bowel disease

    Last year, we helped recruit participants for a study by Rebecca Jackson, Lead Researcher, from University of Sheffield’s Clinical Psychology Unit. The study asked:

    Does self-compassion predict adaptive coping in young people diagnosed with Inflammatory Bowel Disease?

    Aim: To examine whether self-compassion (the act of being kind to oneself, as opposed to self-critical) helped young people (aged 16-24) diagnosed with IBD cope with their symptoms and reduce the distress they felt.

    Study design: 198 young people completed questionnaires to measure how self-compassionate they were to themselves, how they were feeling (their mood, levels of anxiety and stress) and what they did to cope with how they were feeling. Six weeks later, 105 repeated the self-compassion and mood and feelings questionnaires.

    Results:
    • The more self-compassionate young people were, the less distressed they felt
    • Higher self-compassion was associated with greater use of active coping strategies (for example, making a plan for what to do next)
    • Coping in an avoidant way (for example, giving up trying to cope) increased how distressed young people felt
    • Higher self-compassion was associated with less use of avoidant coping strategies (‘giving up’ trying to cope) which in turn was associated with significantly reduced distress

    Conclusions:
    • These findings suggest that self-compassion may be an important quality for reducing distress that young people diagnosed with IBD may be feeling.
    • Helping young people to be self-compassionate may improve their ability to cope with their IBD and reduce the distress they feel, both during relapse and remission of IBD.
    • Using avoidance to cope may exacerbate distress young people feel and helping young people notice when they are using avoidance might help reduce their distress.

    Picture of Rebecca Jackson

    Rebecca Jackson