Date of Graduation

Summer 8-9-2019

Document Access

Project/Capstone - Global access

Degree Name

Master of Science in Behavioral Health (MSBH)


School of Nursing and Health Professions

First Advisor

Dr. Kelly McDermott


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to strengthen San Francisco Suicide Prevention’s HIV Nightline (NL) communication with worried well callers. As a result, this study focused on identifying any covert emotions this population experienced, such as shame, guilt, and judgement. In addition, precursors to worried well behavior were explored, such as the influence of sex act and sexual partner. A needs assessment was conducted with hotline staff and volunteers, with a brief self-compassion intervention piloted over a two-week period.

Methods: Data collection included 1.) a focus group with hotline staff and volunteers 2.) a volunteer survey to learn about worried well behaviors and 3.) a caller questionnaire, adapted from a Self-Compassion Scale. Finally, self-compassion exercises were piloted by three overnight staff, and one volunteer.

Results: Callers identified having shame, low self- compassion, guilt, and judgement. However, many volunteers did not ask the questions from the caller questionnaire. Male callers who reported infidelity were receptive of the self-compassion exercises. The exercises were disseminated to a small sample of 16 callers. Out of the 16 callers, nine callers agreed to do one of the exercises. Four out of the sixteen declined, and the other seven callers participated in breathing exercises.

Discussion: As a result of some of the questions on the caller questionnaire not being asked to callers, findings suggested volunteers may not have been comfortable asking questions around shame and self-compassion. Self-compassion therapy is not recommended for “obsessive” worried well callers. They may have a psychiatric component co-existing. However, self-compassion therapy is recommended for regular worried well callers who are struggling with guilt and shame.

Keywords: worried well, shame, guilt, HIV, compassion, judgment, anxiety

Included in

Psychology Commons