An investigation of the associations between stigma, self-compassion, and pain outcomes during treatment based on Acceptance and Commitment Therapy for chronic pain

Madeleine Anderson, Lance M McCracken, Whitney Scott*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Abstract

Introduction: Stigma adversely affects people with chronic pain. The qualities within self-compassion may be particularly useful for buffering the impact of stigma on people with pain. In the context of an Acceptance and Commitment Therapy-based (ACT) treatment for chronic pain, this study investigated the association between changes in stigma and self-compassion and pain outcomes, and the potential moderating role of self-compassion on the association between stigma and pain outcomes. Materials and methods: Five-hundred and nineteen patients completed standardized self-report questionnaires of stigma, self-compassion, psychological flexibility, pain intensity and interference, work and social adjustment, and depression symptoms at the start of an interdisciplinary ACT-based treatment for chronic pain. The same measures were completed at post-treatment (n = 431). Results: The results indicated that key pain outcomes and self-compassion significantly improved during treatment, but stigma did not. Changes in stigma and self-compassion were significantly negatively correlated and changes in these variables were associated with improvements in treatment outcomes. There were significant main effects of stigma and self-compassion for many of the pre- and post-treatment regression models when psychological flexibility was not controlled for, but self-compassion did not moderate the association between stigma and pain outcomes. Stigma remained significant when psychological flexibility variables were controlled for, while self-compassion did not. Discussion: The findings add to our conceptual understanding of the inter-relationships between stigma, self-compassion, and psychological flexibility and can contribute to treatment advancements to optimally target these variables.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1322723
JournalFrontiers in Psychology
Volume15
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 6 Feb 2024

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