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21-12-2019 | Original Paper | Uitgave 6/2020

Journal of Child and Family Studies 6/2020

The Role of Self-Compassion in the Relationship between Post-Traumatic Growth and Psychological Distress in Caregivers of Children with Autism

Journal of Child and Family Studies > Uitgave 6/2020
Bella Siu Man Chan, Ju Deng, Yan Li, Tianbi Li, Yanmei Shen, Yuyin Wang, Li Yi
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These authors contributed equally: Bella Siu Man Chan, Ju Deng
Publisher’s note Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.



Caregivers of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) may experience varying degrees of both psychopathological symptoms and enriched personal growth. The mechanisms underlying these associations are not well understood. The aim of the current study was to explore the relationships between post-traumatic growth (PTG) and psychological distress, namely depression, anxiety and stress among caregivers of autistic children in China, with self-compassion as a potential relating factor.


One hundred and twenty-one caregivers of children with ASD, ranged in age from 26 to 53, completed the questionnaires. The instruments utilized include a socio demographic questionnaire, Posttraumatic Growth Inventory (PTGI), the Chinese version of the Short Form Depression Anxiety Stress Scales (DASS-21) and the Chinese version of the Short Form Self-Compassion Scale (SCS-SF).


The results showed that there was no significant linear or curvilinear relationship between PTG and psychological distress. PTG indirectly correlated with psychological distress through self-compassion. The positive and negative components of self-compassion uniquely correlated with PTG and psychological distress respectively.


The findings of this study suggested that PTG may play a protective role of mental health among Chinese caregivers of children with ASD through enhancing self-compassion. More importantly, the current study suggested that self-compassion should be better conceptualized in order to move the relevant research forward.

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