Factors affecting hope in a sample of fatigued breast cancer outpatients

Palliat Support Care. 2011 Mar;9(1):63-72. doi: 10.1017/S1478951510000556.


Objective: The aims of this study of women with breast cancer were: to describe the levels of hope and compare hope scores for these patients with a sample from the general Norwegian population; to describe the relationship between hope and fatigue; and finally to evaluate the effect of demographic and clinical characteristics and fatigue on hope.

Method: A total of 160 Norwegian outpatients with cancer and fatigue (>2.5 on a 0-10 scale) completed the Herth Hope Index (HHI), Fatigue Questionnaire (FQ), and Self-administered Comorbidity Questionnaire (SCQ).

Results: The mean age of the women was 55.3 years (SD = 9.4), 81% lived with someone, and 67% were employed. The most common comorbidities were back pain (42%), osteoarthritis (26%), and headache (19%). The fatigued breast cancer patients reported significantly higher total hope scores than the general Norwegian population (p < .0001). The difference was largest in the individual item "I can see a light in the tunnel," to which the cancer sample reported the highest scores, but they also felt more "scared about the future." Total hope score was negatively correlated with total fatigue (TF), mental fatigue (MF), and chronic fatigue (CF), but not with physical fatigue (PF). Demographic and clinical characteristics were not significantly related to hope, except that patients who were married or living with someone showed significantly higher total hope scores.

Significance of results: The higher levels of hope in breast cancer patients compared with the general Norwegian population may reflect a response shift in patients after getting a cancer diagnosis. The fact that a significant relationship was found between total hope scores and living arrangements may indicate that hope is easier to establish when patients have someone to relate to or receive support from. Hope and total fatigue were significantly, but weakly correlated.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Breast Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Breast Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Breast Neoplasms / therapy
  • Chemotherapy, Adjuvant / adverse effects
  • Comorbidity
  • Fatigue / epidemiology
  • Fatigue / etiology
  • Fatigue / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Morale
  • Norway / epidemiology
  • Outpatients
  • Radiotherapy / adverse effects
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic
  • Sickness Impact Profile