University of Twente Student Theses


Self-critique and self-compassion among cancer patients : a qualitative study

Vlierberghe, M.K. van (2019) Self-critique and self-compassion among cancer patients : a qualitative study.

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Abstract:Background: There is a need for psychosocial interventions among cancer patients that provide them with skills to effectively cope with psychosocial challenges, because at this moment there is no standard treatment. The uptake of current interventions is low because they have a high threshold, are not offered right after the diagnosis and do not focus on self-compassion, custom-tailored to cancer patients. There is growing evidence that self-compassion is strongly associated with mental health and research has shown that self-compassion negatively correlates with measures of anxiety, depression, rumination and self-critique. However, little is known about self-critique and self-compassion among cancer patients. This research focuses on in which ways cancer patients are self-critical and/or self-compassionate. Methods: For this qualitative research, seventeen semi-structured interviews were conducted among cancer patients. To become familiar with the concept of self-compassion, cancer patients were asked to do eight reflective and meditative exercises prior to the interview. The interviews were recorded and transcribed verbatim. After selecting relevant text fragments, the transcripts were analyzed applying deductive and inductive analysis. Results: Regarding self-critique, six categories were mentioned: having to stay strong, having critical thoughts/feelings about themselves, being angry with themselves, feeling guilty, not looking for connection/support from others and setting high demands. Regarding self-compassion, eight categories were mentioned: self-care, having positive thoughts/feelings, looking for connection and support from others, allowing negative emotions/feelings, accepting disease and limitations, setting boundaries, doing activities to clear their head and self-acceptance. The reflective exercises were mainly positively appreciated by the respondents. The meditative exercises were less positive appreciated by the respondents. Conclusions: In conclusion, it can be said that cancer patients already experience self-compassion to a certain extent, but self-critique and strictness are also common among them. The concrete information about self-critique and self-compassion among cancer patients can be used to tailor the reflective and meditative exercises with accompanying text to the needs and wishes of cancer patients. Options must be added within the exercises so that a larger target group can be addressed. In additional qualitative research with structured interviews, these adjusted exercises must be presented to cancer patients to see whether these fit the needs and wishes of the cancer patients. This way, the self-compassion of cancer patients can be strengthened.
Item Type:Essay (Master)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:77 psychology
Programme:Psychology MSc (66604)
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