Predicting symptoms of anxiety and depression in patients living with advanced cancer: the differential roles of hope and optimism

Ian C. Fischer, Larry D. Cripe, Kevin L. Rand

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Scopus citations


Purpose: Psychological distress is related to poorer functioning and reduced quality of life in patients with advanced cancer and may have untoward influences on treatment decisions. Current research on factors associated with this distress is limited, making targeted interventions to reduce it suboptimal. We examined the relationships between two goal-related expectancies and two of the most common symptoms of psychological distress in patients living with advanced cancer: anxiety and depressive symptoms. Methods: Patients with advanced gastrointestinal cancer, colorectal cancer, lung cancer, or melanoma (N = 84) completed measures of anxiety, depressive symptoms, optimism, hope, and prediction for 12-month survival. Oncologists provided prediction for patient 12-month survival and patient performance status. Results: Hope, but not optimism, was associated with less severe depressive symptoms (β = − 0.42). Conversely, optimism, but not hope, was associated with less severe anxiety symptoms (β = − 0.36). Conclusions: Hope and optimism appear to be associated with different aspects of psychological distress in patients living with advanced cancer. This may be explained by different appraisals of the uncertainty and distress that are associated with living with advanced-stage cancer. Hope- or optimism-focused interventions can be tailored to help alleviate specific aspects of psychological distress among these patients.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3471-3477
Number of pages7
JournalSupportive Care in Cancer
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2018



  • Advanced cancer
  • Anxiety
  • Depressive symptoms
  • Hope
  • Optimism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology

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