Stigma, self-compassion, and psychological distress among people with Parkinson’s

Fiona Eccles, Natalie Sowter, Terry Spokes, Nicolo Zarotti, Jane Simpson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)
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Purpose: People with Parkinson’s disease (hereafter Parkinson’s) can experience stigma through the attitudes and actions of others (enacted stigma) and through anticipation of enacted stigma and internalisation of negative stereotypes (felt stigma). Self-compassion may protect against the impact of stigma. This study aimed to investigate the relationships between self-compassion, stigma, and psychological distress among people with Parkinson’s. Methods: A total of 130 people with Parkinson’s completed questionnaires measuring self-compassion, enacted and felt stigma, and depression, anxiety, and stress. Correlation, mediation, and moderation models were used to investigate relationships between variables. Results: All variables correlated significantly in the expected directions. Felt stigma mediated the relationship between self-compassion and the three outcome variables–depression, anxiety, and stress. Self-compassion did not moderate the relationship between enacted stigma and distress and suggested enacted stigma was associated with distress, regardless of levels of self-compassion. Conclusions: Self-compassion and both enacted and felt stigma are important predictors of distress for people with Parkinson’s. Part of the relationship between lower self-compassion and psychological distress appears to occur via the internalisation of stigma. These findings may be relevant to the development of individualised and societal interventions with the aim of improving the psychological wellbeing of people with Parkinson’s.Implications for rehabilitation Self-compassion was associated with lower levels of psychological distress (i.e., depression, anxiety, and stress) and self-stigma partially mediated this relationship. Self-compassion did not moderate the relationship between enacted stigma and psychological distress, suggesting enacted stigma increases distress, regardless of self-compassion. The development and assessment of the effectiveness of compassion-focused interventions tailored for people with Parkinson’s may be important as well as systemic stigma focused interventions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)425-433
Number of pages9
JournalDisability and Rehabilitation
Issue number3
Early online date16 Feb 2022
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2023


  • Anxiety
  • depression
  • empathy
  • Parkinson disease
  • social stigma
  • stress
  • cross-sectional studies
  • questionnaires

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