Quality of life and the impairment effects of pain in a chronic pain patient population as potentially moderated by self-compassion
Due to the subjective nature of pain and the profound debilitating effects of pain for a growing number of people, there are many challenges to approaching and fully addressing its problems. The traditional biomedical model of health limits its treatment focus to the physical components of pain. Biomedicine provides useful and effective short-term relief of bodily symptoms, but usually cannot cure pain that persists in both mind and body over time. Because chronic pain is often accompanied with discomfort, depression, and other significant life impairments, health researchers have recently conceptualized more comprehensive models to address pain. In the bio-psycho-social-spiritual health model, chronic pain is assessed and treated in the context of a person’s overall quality of life, considering biological, psychological, social, and spiritual health conditions. This movement towards adopting integrative health care models can also provide patient guidance needed for developing inner resources to adapt to pain, as well as recover from and prevent disease. Self-compassion comes from a fertile field of inquiry emerging out of a wider conception of health that includes spirituality. The construct is based on three related components that can assist a person living with pain: (a) being kind to oneself while in pain or suffering, (b) perceiving difficult times as shared human experiences, and (c) holding painful thoughts and feelings with mindfulness, instead of over-identification. Measured using the Self-Compassion Scale, it demonstrates positive associations with a variety of health indicators. However, a direct relationship with chronic pain has not yet been examined. In applying recent research in quality of life (QoL) and self-compassion to a chronic pain patient population, the purpose of this study is twofold: (a) to produce a comprehensive assessment of bio-psycho-social-spiritual QoL conditions (b) to examine differences in QoL with the presence of self-compassion and determine its potential moderating effect on life impairments due to pain. From this project, the QoL conditions that are affected by chronic pain and the moderation effect of self-compassion will be understood better so that more effective treatment and prevention procedures can be developed for people living with pain from long-term disease conditions.