Date of this Version


Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Details

Published version

Kearney, K. G., & Hickes, R.E. (2016). Self-compassion and breast cancer in 23 cancer respondents: Is the way you relate to yourself a factor in disease onset and progress. Psychology, 8(1), 14-26.

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Copyright © 2016 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


2152-7199 online, 2152-7180 print


Breast Cancer has been extensively studied. However, there is limited knowledge about how psychological factors such as levels of self-compassion may be related to disease onset. This study examined whether higher levels of selfcompassion may be associated with a delayed onset of cancer and its progression and lower hyper-arousal scores in Australian women with breast cancer, using retrospective recollections as part of the study design. Participants from Australian cancer support groups were invited to complete an online survey including demographic and cancer history information, a hyper-arousal scale and a self-compassion scale (self-report scales). After data screening 23 of the 31 responding participants were included in the study. Correlation and regression analyses were used to analyse the relationships. Higher levels of selfcompassion were related to later onset of breast cancer and to lower hyperarousal scores. The findings suggest that self-compassion may be a protective factor in relation to hyper-arousal and early onset and progression of disease. The implication, subject to more extended research, is that counsellors, therapists and physicians may reduce the personal and health costs of those with breast cancer by helping them become more aware of and better users of effective self-compassion strategies.



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