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Is Self-Compassion Related to Behavioural, Clinical and Emotional Outcomes in Adults with Diabetes? Results from the Second Diabetes MILES—Australia (MILES-2) Study

  • Adriana D. VenturaEmail author
  • Giesje Nefs
  • Jessica L. Browne
  • Anna M. Friis
  • Frans Pouwer
  • Jane Speight


Diabetes mellitus is a complex chronic condition requiring daily self-management to prevent/delay the onset of diabetes-related complications. The emphasis on control for diabetes self-management can lead to feelings of self-blame and failure when targets are not reached. Self-compassion may offer an alternative way of relating to the self when such feelings arise, and in turn, positively influence diabetes health outcomes. However, little is known about how self-compassion relates to behavioural, clinical and emotional outcomes in adults with diabetes. The aim of the current study was therefore to determine the associations between self-compassion and diabetes-related health behaviours and clinical outcomes, and emotional health outcomes. Cross-sectional data from adults (N = 1907) aged 18–75 years with type 1 or type 2 diabetes, who participated in the second Diabetes MILES—Australia (MILES-2) study, were analysed. Behavioural outcomes were healthy eating and physical activity (SDSCA subscales); clinical outcome was self-reported haemoglobin A1c (HbA1c; an important measure of average blood glucose in diabetes management); emotional outcomes were depressive symptoms (PHQ-8), anxiety symptoms (GAD-7) and diabetes distress (PAID). Self-compassion was measured using the Self-Compassion Scale Short-Form (SCS-SF). Self-compassion was significantly lower among those with severe diabetes distress or moderate-to-severe symptoms of depression and anxiety, as compared to those with no/mild symptoms. Further, hierarchical linear regression analyses, split by diabetes type, revealed that self-compassion was significantly associated with all specified outcomes, with the strongest associations observed among the emotional outcomes (β range, − 0.47 to − 0.55; all p < 0.01). The findings indicate self-compassion is meaningfully associated with more optimal behavioural, clinical and, especially, emotional outcomes in adults with diabetes.


Self-compassion Diabetes Diabetes distress Depression Anxiety Self-care 



We thank all study participants who took part in this research.

Author Contributions

AV, GN and JLB conceptualised the study. AV analysed the data and wrote the paper. GN and JLB assisted with data analysis, collaborated on the design of the paper and final writing and editing of the manuscript. FP, AMF and JS collaborated on the design of the paper and provided feedback and contributed to subsequent revisions of the manuscript. All authors approved the final version of this manuscript.

Funding Information

The key researchers on this study were supported by core funding provided to the Australian Centre for Behavioural Research in Diabetes by Diabetes Victoria and Deakin University. An unrestricted educational grant from Sanofi ANZ supported recruitment activities and the development of the study website. Sanofi ANZ was not involved in the study design, data collection or data analysis and had no input on the preparation of this manuscript.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

The study was conducted in compliance with the guidelines of Deakin University Human Research Ethics Committee.

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Deakin University, Geelong, School of PsychologyMelbourneAustralia
  2. 2.The Australian Centre for Behavioural Research in Diabetes, Diabetes VictoriaMelbourneAustralia
  3. 3.Department of Medical and Clinical Psychology, CoRPSTilburg UniversityTilburgThe Netherlands
  4. 4.Diabeter, National Treatment and Research Center for children, Adolescents and Young Adults with Type 1 DiabetesRotterdamThe Netherlands
  5. 5.Department of Medical Psychology, Radboud Institute for Health SciencesRadboud University Medical CenterNijmegenThe Netherlands
  6. 6.Department of Psychological MedicineUniversity of AucklandAucklandNew Zealand
  7. 7.Department of PsychologyUniversity of Southern DenmarkOdenseDenmark
  8. 8.AHP ResearchHornchurchUK

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