Is it possible to encourage hope in non-advanced cancer patients? We must try

Carla I. Ripamonti, G. Miccinesi, M. A. Pessi, P. Di Pede, M. Ferrari

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Data are lacking on the relationship between hope and other variables in non-advanced cancer patients. The study explored the relationship between hope, symptoms, needs, and spirituality/religiosity in patients treated in a supportive care unit (SCU). Patients and methods: From September 2013 to March 2014, the consecutive patients who accepted to complete: (I) Needs Evaluation Questionnaire (NEQ), (ii) the Edmonton Symptom Assessment System (ESAS), (iii) Hope Herth Index (HHI), and (iv) the System of Belief Inventory (SBI) were enrolled. Moreover, clinical/demographic data were collected and the findings were analyzed. Results: A total of 276 patients who completed the HHI questionnaire (participation rate 276/300 = 92%) were included; 131 reported HHI total score >37 (median value). The majority of patients had a Karnofsky performance status >80; 71% were on cancer therapies, and only 29 patients had metastases or relapse. Patients with higher HHI scores were less educated (P = 0.012), reported lower ESAS total score (15.4 versus 22.6, P <0.001), and had less often been referred to a psychologist previously to the study (P = 0.002); patients with a higher HHI score also reported higher spirituality (P <0.001). Some NEQ items resulted significantly associated with HHI score after adjustment for other variables: the need to have sincere clinicians (β = -2.7), better dialogue (β = -2.1), and more reassurance from the clinicians (β = -2.5); better attention (β = -4.4) and respect for intimacy (β = -3.3) from nurses; to speak with people who have the same illness experience (β = -2.5), to be more reassured by relatives (β = -3.3) and to feel less abandoned (β = -4.3). Higher SBI scores were independently associated with higher HHI scores (β = 1.7 for 10 points increase). Conclusions: In cancer patients, hope can be encouraged by clinicians through dialogue, sincerity, and reassurance, as well as assessing and considering the patients' needs (above all the psycho-emotional), symptoms, psychological frailty, and their spiritual/religious resources.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbermdv614
Pages (from-to)513-519
Number of pages7
JournalAnnals of Oncology
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1 2016


  • Hope
  • Needs
  • Spirituality/religiousness
  • Supportive care
  • Symptoms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Hematology


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