Jessica Baggaley is a trainee clinical psychologist at the University of Hull. She carried out a research study as part of her doctorate in Clinical Psychology which looked at measuring self-compassion with people living with dementia. Self-compassion is defined as being kind and understanding towards ourselves.

About the study

In this research we wanted to find out whether a questionnaire can be used to measure how much self-compassion a person has whilst living with dementia. 

We also wanted to explore whether people who have more self-compassion also show higher levels of well-being whilst living with dementia. 

The research involved completing questions that asked about self-compassion, well-being, self-esteem and depression. 

My experience using Join Dementia Research

I first heard about Join Dementia Research from my research supervisors and I thought that it sounded like a great way to advertise my study to people living with dementia across the UK. Registering with Join Dementia Research was incredibly easy, and my study was automatically matched to thousands of registered volunteers. 

Initial recruitment was slow going, however after a few months I began to contact matched volunteers on Join Dementia Research via email to advertise the study and share the link to the online questionnaire. The updates from other researchers for each volunteer on the database were very useful to help identify potential participants. Following this, recruitment had a huge boost, with new participants completing the questionnaire or contacting me for more information every week.

A total of 207 people living with dementia took part in the study which is an incredible number. It appeared that over 50 percent of participants who took part in the research found out about the study through advertising to volunteers who were registered with Join Dementia Research. 

What did we learn? 

  • People living with dementia who had higher self-compassion levels also had greater well-being, self-esteem, and lower levels of depression or low mood
  • Self-compassion was higher for people who were over 65 years, this might suggest that self-compassion increases as we age
  • Self-compassion levels were not different between men and women or between people diagnosed with different types of dementia. Self-compassion was also not related to how long someone had been living with dementia
  • We learnt that a questionnaire can be used to measure how much self-compassion a person has whilst living with dementia. However, some of the questions might be better at measuring self-compassion than others

What’s next?

The study findings suggest that self-compassion might be important for living well with dementia. We need more research to test this out, for example with studies that look at how we might help people with dementia be more compassionate towards themselves.

The self-compassion questionnaire that we used in the study can also be used in future research and to look at how helpful different types of support are at improving self-compassion for people living with dementia.

In summary, Join Dementia Research has been invaluable for recruitment and the advertisement of my study. I would definitely recommend using Join Dementia Research to other researchers and people living with dementia who want to take part in research. I am very grateful to everybody who took part in the study; I couldn’t have completed the research with you. 

All ethically approved dementia studies from across the UK suitable to recruit from a register can use the Join Dementia Research service. Find out what the service offers for researchers on the Join Dementia Research website.