Ambulatory Advanced Cancer Patients' and Oncologists' Estimates of Life Expectancy Are Associated with Patient Psychological Characteristics but Not Chemotherapy Use

Larry D. Cripe, Kevin L. Rand, Susan M. Perkins, Yan Tong, Karen Krall Schmidt, David G. Hedrick, Susan M. Rawl

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

1 Scopus citations


Background: Patients with advanced cancer often face distressing decisions about chemotherapy. There are conflicting data on the relationships among perceived prognosis, psychological characteristics, and chemotherapy use, which impair the refinement of decision support interventions. Objective: Clarify the relationships among patient and oncologist estimates of life expectancy for 6 and 12 months, chemotherapy use, and patient psychological characteristics. Design: Secondary analysis of data from two cross-sectional studies. Setting/Subjects: One hundred sixty-six patients with advanced stage cancer recruited from ambulatory cancer clinics. Measurements: All data were obtained at study enrollment. Patients completed the Adult Hope Scale, Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale, and Life Orientation Test-Revised. Patients and their oncologists provided estimates of surviving beyond 6 and 12 months. Chemotherapy use was determined by chart review. Results: There were no significant associations between life-expectancy estimates and chemotherapy use nor patient anxiety, depression, hope, or optimism and chemotherapy use. Patients' life expectancy estimates for 12 months and oncologists' for 6 months were associated with higher patient anxiety and depression. Finally, both oncologist and patient estimates of life expectancy for 6 and 12 months were associated with increased levels of trait hope. Conclusion: Advanced cancer patients who provide less optimistic estimates of life expectancy have increased anxiety and depression, but do not use chemotherapy more often. Increased patient trait hope is associated with more favorable oncologist estimates. These findings highlight the need for interventions to support both patients and oncologists as they clarify prognostic expectations and patients cope with the psychological distress of a limited life expectancy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1107-1113
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of palliative medicine
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2018



  • advanced cancer
  • chemotherapy
  • patient physician communication
  • prognostication

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing(all)
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine

Cite this