MSC Articles
& Books

Mindfulness, Compassion, and Self-Compassion Among Health Care Professionals: What’s New? A Systematic Review

Health care professionals (HCPs) are a population at risk for high levels of burnout and compassion fatigue. The aim of the present systematic review was to give an overview on recent literature about mindfulness and compassion characteristics of HCPs, while exploring the effectiveness of techniques, involving the two aspects, such as MBSR or mindfulness intervention and compassion fatigue-related programs.

A search of databases, including PubMed and PsycINFO, was conducted following the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Review and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines and the methodological quality for this systematic review was appraised using AMSTAR-2 (A MeaSurement Tool to Assess systematic Reviews-2). The number of articles that met the inclusion criteria was 58 (4 RCTs, 24 studies with pre-post measurements, 12 cross-sectional studies, 11 cohort studies and 7 qualitative studies). MBSR intervention was effective at improving, and maintaining, mindfulness and self-compassion levels and to improve burnout, depression, anxiety, stress.

The most frequently employed interventional strategies were mindfulness-related trainings that were effective at improving mindfulness and self-compassion, but not compassion fatigue, levels. Compassion-related interventions have been shown to improve self-compassion, mindfulness and interpersonal conflict levels. Mindfulness was effective at improving negative affect and compassion fatigue, while compassion satisfaction may be related to cultivation of positive affect.

This systematic review summarized the evidence regarding mindfulness- and compassion-related qualities of HCPs as well as potential effects of MBSR, mindfulness-related and compassion-related interventions on professionals’ psychological variables like mindfulness, self-compassion and quality of life. Combining structured mindfulness and compassion cultivation trainings may enhance the effects of interventions, limit the variability of intervention protocols and improve data comparability of future research.

Ciro Conversano et al., Mindfulness & Self-Compassion Training for Health Care Professionals, Front. Psychol., July 2020


A pilot study and randomized controlled trial of the mindful self-compassion program

Objectives: The aim of these two studies was to evaluate the effectiveness of the Mindful Self-Compassion (MSC) program, an 8-week workshop designed to train people to be more self-compassionate.

Methods: Study 1 was a pilot study that examined change scores in self-compassion, mindfulness, and various wellbeing outcomes among community adults (N = 21; mean [M] age = 51.26, 95% female). Study 2 was a randomized controlled trial that compared a treatment group (N = 25; M age = 51.21; 78% female) with a waitlist control group (N = 27; M age = 49.11; 82% female).

Results: Study 1 found significant pre/post gains in self-compassion, mindfulness, and various wellbeing outcomes. Study 2 found that compared with the control group, intervention participants reported significantly larger increases in self-compassion, mindfulness, and wellbeing. Gains were maintained at 6-month and 1-year follow-ups.

Conclusions: The MSC program appears to be effective at enhancing self-compassion, mindfulness, and wellbeing.

Kristin Neff & Chris Germer, A pilot study and randomized controlled trial of the Mindful Self-Compassion Program, J. Clinical Psych. 69(1):28-44 (2013)


Mindful Self-Compassion Training Reduces Stress and Burnout Symptoms Among Practicing Psychologists: A Randomized Controlled Trial of a Brief Web-Based Intervention

Objective: The aims of this study were (a) to examine the effects of a 6 weeks web-based mindful self-compassion program on stress and burnout symptoms in a group of practicing psychologists, and (b) to examine relationships between changes in self-compassion and self-coldness and changes in stress and burnout symptoms.

Method: In a randomized controlled trial, 101 practicing psychologists were assigned to a training group (n = 51) or a wait-list control group (n = 49). The training encompassed 15 min exercises per day, 6 days a week, for 6 weeks. The participants completed the Self-Compassion Scale (SCS), the Five Facets of Mindfulness Questionnaire (FFMQ), the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS), and the Shirom Melamed Burnout Questionnaire (SMBQ) pre and post intervention.

Results: Eighty-one participants (n = 40 in the training group, n = 41 in the control group) took part in the pre and post intervention assessments. Selective gains for the intervention group were observed for SCS total scores (d = 0.86; d = 0.94 for the SCS), FFMQ scores (d = 0.60), while levels of self-coldness was reduced (d = 0.73). Critically, levels of perceived stress (d = 0.59) and burnout symptoms (d = 0.44 for SMBQ total) were additionally lowered post intervention. Finally, the results confirmed the hypothesis that the measures of distress would be more strongly related to self-coldness than self-compassion, a pattern seen in cross-sectional analyses and, for burnout, also in the longitudinal analyses.

Conclusions: This training program appeared effective to increase self-compassion/reduce self-coldness, and to alleviate stress and symptoms of burnout and provide support of the distinction between self-compassion and self-coldness. Additional studies, preferably three-armed RCTs with long-term follow-up, are warranted to further evaluate the effectiveness of the program.