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Mindfulness‐based stress reduction (MBSR) programmes have demonstrated beneficial outcomes in a variety of populations. Self‐compassion and empathy have theoretical connections to mindfulness, the key element of the MBSR programme; however, previous studies examining the programme's impact on self‐compassion or empathy have demonstrated mixed results. This study examined the impact of MBSR on self‐compassion and empathy, as well as on mindfulness, symptoms of stress, mood disturbance and spirituality in a community sample. Significant reductions in symptoms of stress and mood disturbance, as well as increases in mindfulness, spirituality and self‐compassion were observed after programme participation. With regards to empathy, a significant increase was seen in perspective taking and a significant decrease in personal distress; no significant change was observed for empathic concern. Changes in self‐compassion were predicted by changes in mindfulness. Self‐compassion and aspects of empathy revealed strong associations with psychological functioning. Implications of MBSR as an intervention for enhancing self‐compassion and empathy are discussed.

Objective: Cancer patients experience many negative psychological symptoms including stress, anxiety, and depression. This distress is not limited to the patient, as their partners also experience many psychological challenges. Mindfulness‐based stress reduction (MBSR) programs have demonstrated clinical benefit for a variety of chronic illnesses, including cancer. This is the first study to report MBSR participation with partners of cancer patients.Methods: This study examined the impact of an 8‐week MBSR program for 21 couples who attended the program together on outcomes of mood disturbance, symptoms of stress, and mindfulness. Results: Significant reductions for both patients and partners in mood disturbance (p<0.05) and the Calgary Symptoms of Stress Inventory (C‐SOSI) subscales of muscle tension (p<0.01), neurological/GI (p<0.05), and upper respiratory (p<0.01) symptoms were observed after program participation. Significant increases in mindfulness (p<0.05) were also reported in both groups. No significant correlations were observed between patient and partner scores on any measures at baseline or on change scores pre‐ to post‐intervention; however, after MBSR participation couple's scores on the Profile of Mood States and C‐SOSI were more highly correlated with one‐another. Post‐intervention, partners' mood disturbance scores were significantly positively correlated with patients' symptoms of stress and negatively correlated with patients' levels of mindfulness. Conclusions: Overall, the MBSR program was helpful for improving psychological functioning and mindfulness for both members of the couple. Several avenues of future research are suggested to further explore potential benefits of joint couple attendance in the MBSR program.