Mindfulness, self-compassion and psychological flexibility mediate the effects of a mindfulness-based intervention in a sample of oncology nurses

Joana Duarte and Jose Pino-Gouveia


Mindfulness-based interventions (MBIs) have received large empirical support for their efficacy. In comparison, few studies have explored the underlying mechanisms and processes through which MBIs impact outcomes. This study aimed to explore the potential role of trait mindfulness, self-compassion and psychological inflexibility as mediators of the effects of a MBI on burnout, compassion fatigue, psychological symptoms and satisfaction with life.


This study used data from a non-randomized controlled study with a sample of oncology nurses. Participants were recruited from two large oncology hospitals in Portugal's north and centre regions. A sample of 94 oncology nurses agreed to participate in the study and self-selected into an experimental (n =45) and a wait-list comparison condition (n =48). Participants in the wait-list comparison condition received the intervention at a later date. Complete data was obtained for 48 of the initial 94 participants, mainly due to poor follow-up data rather than high drop-out rate. The data analysed was from both waitlist and intervention participants after the waitlist group had received the intervention. Participants completed self-report measures to assess several processes, such as mindfulness, psychological inflexibility, self-compassion, and several outcomes, such as burnout and compassion fatigue, depression, anxiety and stress symptoms, and satisfaction with life.


Changes in mindfulness mediated changes in burnout, anxiety and stress, and satisfaction with life; changes in self-compassion mediated the impact of the intervention on burnout, depression, anxiety, stress and satisfaction with life; and psychological inflexibility mediated reductions in burnout, compassion fatigue, depression, and stress.


These findings contribute to the growing body of research examining the underlying mechanisms at work in MBIs, and highlight the importance of mindfulness, self-compassion and psychological inflexibly as key change processes.

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