Self-Compassion and Veteran’s Health: A Scoping Review

April, 2021

This review identifies research and explores the evidence-base of self-compassion as a protective factor, from negative health outcomes, amongst military veterans.


There is evidence to suggest that self-compassion is related to positive health and wellbeing outcomes, therefore, this paper explores this concept within the military veteran population. The aim of this review was to identify research and explore the evidence-based of self-compassion as a protective factor, from negative health outcomes, amongst military veterans. The Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses extension for Scoping Reviews guided the undertaking and reporting of this review. Databases (CINAHL, EBSCO, MEDLINE, PsycInfo, SocINDEX, Web of Science), manual searches of grey literature, websites, and reference lists of retrieved articles, were explored to identify peer-reviewed English language studies published from 2000 to 2019. Searches included any study that measured self-compassion or involved self-compassion education/training. A narrative synthesis was utilized. Searches retrieved 89 articles; 17 studies met the inclusion criteria. All studies were conducted in the US and included veterans, with three also including partners. There was heterogeneity between studies’ designs, methodologies, and characteristics. Of these studies, 11 examined associated factors, eight measured improvements in health or well-being outcomes, and six reported feasibility and acceptability of self-compassion strategies. Self-compassion seems to be particularly beneficial for veterans who have experienced trauma, suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, trauma-related guilt, depression (or at risk of suicide), and for those who have been in combat and deployed. Limited evidence was found for Schizophrenia and alcohol misuse. Self-compassion appears to have a protective role with positive outcomes for mental and physical health in veterans, in particular for trauma-related psychopathology symptoms.

Full Reference

Steen, M. P., Di Lemma, L., Finnegan, A., Wepa, D., & McGhee, S. (2021). Self-Compassion and Veteran's Health: A Scoping Review. Journal of Veterans Studies, 7(1), 86–130. DOI:

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