Self-Compassion, Stress, and Coping in the Context of Chronic Illness

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A recent review suggested that self-compassion promotes use of adaptive rather than maladaptive coping. Less is known about how self-compassion is linked to stress and coping in the context of a chronic stressor. Across two primarily female chronic illness samples, inflammatory bowel disease (N = 155) and arthritis (N = 164), a model linking self-compassion to lower stress through coping styles and coping efficacy was tested. Path analyses revealed significant indirect effects for adaptive coping styles (active, positive reframing, and acceptance), and negatively for maladaptive coping styles (behavioral disengagement and self-blame) in both samples. Findings suggest that the relative balance of adaptive and maladaptive coping strategies used by self-compassionate people is associated with better coping outcomes in the context of chronic illness.