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06-09-2016 | ORIGINAL PAPER | Uitgave 2/2017 Open Access

Mindfulness 2/2017

Are Mindfulness and Self-Compassion Related to Psychological Distress and Communication in Couples Facing Lung Cancer? A Dyadic Approach

Tijdschrift:
Mindfulness > Uitgave 2/2017
Auteurs:
Melanie P. J. Schellekens, Johan C. Karremans, Miep A. van der Drift, Johan Molema, Desiree G. M. van den Hurk, Judith B. Prins, Anne E. M. Speckens

Abstract

Lung cancer patients and their spouses report high rates of distress. Due to the increasing popularity of and evidence for mindfulness-based interventions in cancer, mindfulness and self-compassion have been identified as potentially helpful skills when coping with cancer. This dyadic study examined how mindfulness and self-compassion are related to psychological distress and communication about cancer in couples facing lung cancer. Using the actor-partner interdependence model, self-reported mindfulness, self-compassion, psychological distress and communication about cancer were analyzed in a cross-sectional sample of 88 couples facing lung cancer. Regarding psychological distress, no difference was found between patients and spouses. In both partners, own levels of mindfulness (B = −0.19, p = .002) and self-compassion (B = −0.45, p < .001) were negatively related to own distress levels. At a dyadic level, own self-compassion was less strongly associated with distress if the partner reported high self-compassion (B = 0.03, p = .049). Regarding communication about cancer, patients reported to communicate more openly with their partner than with spouses. However, after controlling for gender, this difference was no longer significant. In both partners, own self-compassion (B = 0.03, p = .010) was significantly associated with own communication while mindfulness was not. A trend showed that mindfulness of the partner was related to more open communication in the individual (B = 0.01, p = .080). These findings give a first indication that mindfulness and self-compassion skills may go beyond the individual and could impact couple functioning. Future research should examine whether couples facing (lung) cancer may benefit from programs in which mindfulness and self-compassion are cultivated.

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