Institutional members access full text with Ovid®

Share this article on:

The Relationship Between Optimism and Quality of Life in Newly Diagnosed Cancer Patients

Mazanec, Susan R. PhD, RN, AOCN; Daly, Barbara J. PhD, RN, FAAN; Douglas, Sara L. PhD, RN; Lipson, Amy R. PhD

doi: 10.1097/NCC.0b013e3181c7fa80

Background: Understanding the relationships between social and psychological determinants of health-related quality of life (HRQOL) is a critical step in developing effective screening tools and targeted interventions for psychosocial care.

Objective: The purpose of this study was to examine the relationship between dispositional optimism and HRQOL in newly diagnosed adult cancer patients.

Methods: A cross-sectional, predictive correlational design was used. The sample consisted of 163 patients with mixed diagnoses and stages who were within 180 days since diagnosis and had completed a battery of psychosocial measures upon enrollment into a psychosocial data registry during their first outpatient visit or treatment. Hierarchical multiple regression analyses were conducted to determine predictors of HRQOL.

Results: Optimism was significantly correlated with spiritual well-being, anxiety, depression, and HRQOL. Optimism was not a significant predictor of HRQOL at initial diagnosis and treatment when age, scores on functional status, spiritual well-being, depression, and anxiety were entered into the regression equation.

Conclusion: Dispositional optimism is not a primary factor in HRQOL at initial diagnosis and treatment. Further exploration is needed to determine if optimism exerts a greater influence on HRQOL at another point along the cancer trajectory and if there is overlap between the constructs of optimism and spirituality.

Implications for Practice: Although systematic screening for dispositional optimism is not recommended, patients who display characteristics associated with low optimism require further assessment. Also, patients with poor functional status, young age, low levels of spirituality, and high levels of depression may be vulnerable for poor HRQOL.

Author Affiliations: Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing, Case Western Reserve University (Drs Mazanec, Daly, Douglas, and Lipson); Case Comprehensive Cancer Center Prevention Research Educational Postdoctoral Training Program (Dr Mazanec) and Clinical Ethics Program (Dr Daly), University Hospitals Case Medical Center, Cleveland, Ohio.

This study was funded by P20-CA-103736 and Case Western Reserve University Presidential Research Initiative.

Correspondence: Susan R. Mazanec, PhD, RN, AOCN, Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing, Case Western Reserve University, 10900 Euclid Ave, Cleveland, OH 44106-4904 (

Accepted for publication October 22, 2009.

© 2010 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.