Effectiveness of self-compassion-focused and mindfulness-based interventions in improving the emotional wellbeing of mental health professionals: a systematic review and; the relationships between self-compassion, emotional intelligence, depression, anxiety and carer burden in family caregivers of individuals with a diagnosis of dementia
Objective: The thesis had two objectives. The first was to examine the effectiveness of self-compassion-focused and mindfulness-based interventions in improving the emotional wellbeing of mental health professionals. A systematic review aimed to provide a comprehensive and updated critical examination of the available literature. The second objective was to examine the relationships between carer burden, self-compassion, emotional intelligence, depression and anxiety in family caregivers of individuals with a diagnosis of diagnosis. The empirical study also aimed to identify any potential protective mechanisms of self-compassion and emotional intelligence on the impact of carer burden. Method: To address the first research objective, electronic databases were systematically searched to identify appropriate studies and a quality assessment was undertaken. An independent reviewer assessed the quality of seven papers. To address the second research objective, a cross-sectional study was conducted and participants (N =164) completed five online questionnaires examining carer burden, depression, anxiety, emotional intelligence and self-compassion. Results: In the systematic review, 22 studies comprising 1015 participants met the eligibility criteria to be included in the review. Quality appraisal highlighted several limitations in the studies. There was relatively strong evidence for the effectiveness of both self-compassion and mindfulness-based therapies on multiple measures of emotional wellbeing. There was mixed evidence for the sustained benefits when using longer-term follow-up periods. In the empirical project, higher carer burden was associated with and predicted lower levels of depression and anxiety in family carers of individuals with dementia. Higher self-compassion and emotional intelligence were also associated and predicted lower levels of depression and anxiety. Self-compassion and emotional intelligence did not moderate the relationships between carer burden and depression and anxiety. Conclusions: The findings of the review suggest evidence that self-compassion-focused and mindfulness-based interventions are effective in improving emotional wellbeing in mental health professionals, although methodological weaknesses need to be taken into consideration. Further research is required to establish the evidence base on this topic, in particular longitudinal studies. The empirical study provided evidence that self-compassion and emotional intelligence can predict mental health symptoms in a sample of participants experiencing high levels of carer burden. This suggest that individual differences are important to consider when evaluating resilience in this population. Additional research is required to better understand the interactions between these variables in family caregivers. Note: The overall aim of this thesis was to examine emotional wellbeing in both professionals who work in mental health settings and in informal family caregivers. Due to the increasing amount of research into the constructs of self-compassion and emotional intelligence, the empirical study examined these factors, and their relationships with depression, anxiety and carer burden in a sample of family caregivers of individuals with a diagnosis of dementia. Due to the limited number of research studies examining these factors in family carergivers, a systematic review was not warranted. As such, the systematic review aimed to highlight the needs of ‘professional carers’ by examining the effectiveness of self-compassion and mindfulness-based in mental health professionals. Overall, the thesis aims to further the research into self-compassion, mindfulness and emotional intelligence, emotional wellbeing in both family and professional caregivers.