Self-compassionate Aging: A Systematic Review Academic Article uri icon


  • Abstract Abstract Background and Objectives There is considerable heterogeneity in experiences of aging, with some experiencing greater well-being and adapting more successfully to the challenges of aging than others. Self-compassion is a modifiable psychological skill that might help explain individual differences in well-being and adjustment in later life. The aim of this study was to systematically review the literature on self-compassion and well-being outcomes in studies of older adults aged 65 and older. Research Design and Methods This systematic review was conducted according to PRISMA guidelines, using databases PsycINFO, Medline, and Embase. The search term self-compassion was paired with terms relating to well-being, psychological symptoms, and adjustment. Meta-analysis was used to synthesize results on the relationship between self-compassion and four outcomes including depression, anxiety, hedonic well-being, and eudaimonic well-being. Results Eleven studies met inclusion criteria for this review. Meta-analysis revealed that self-compassion was associated with lower levels of depression (r = −.58, 95% CI [−.66, −.48]) and anxiety (r = −.36, 95% CI [−.60, −.07]), and higher levels of hedonic (r = .41, 95% CI [.15, .62]) and eudaimonic (r = .49, 95% CI [.41, .57]) well-being. Further, three studies found self-compassion weakened the impact of physical symptoms on well-being outcomes. Discussion and Implications We found preliminary evidence that self-compassion is associated with well-being outcomes in older adults, and that self-compassion may buffer the psychological sequelae of health symptoms in later life. Higher quality studies with uniform outcome measures are needed to replicate and extend these results.

publication date

  • July 16, 2019