Purpose/objectives: To compare levels of hope in patients with newly diagnosed and recurrent cancer.
Design: Descriptive study.
Setting: Three oncology practices in two urban areas of the southern United States.
Sample: Convenience sample of 20 newly diagnosed patients with cancer and 16 patients with recurrent cancer (mean age = 56 years). The majority of the patients were Caucasian, female, and married; had a high school degree; and had a religious affiliation.
Methods: Subjects completed the Herth Hope Scale and answered the open-ended question "What gives you the most hope at the present time?" Analysis included descriptive statistics (i.e., frequency, means, standard deviations, percents), t-tests, Chi-square, and analysis of variance.
Main research variables: Level of hope each subject had in relation to the stage of the cancer at the time of diagnosis.
Findings: Contrary to expectations, patients with newly diagnosed and recurrent cancer did not differ in regard to their level of hope. However, significant differences were found related to the type of hope utilized. Married patients and male patients experienced higher levels of hope. Recurrent themes in response to the open-ended question were family support, nonfamily support, faith, outlook, and health professionals/care.
Conclusions: Patients with newly diagnosed cancer use their treatment and nurses, physicians, and other healthcare professionals as sources of hope and support. Patients with recurrent cancer reported drawing hope from faith. IMPLICATIONS AND NURSING PRACTICE: Heightened awareness of the patient-healthcare professional relationship will enable healthcare professionals to provide care that is more sensitive to one congruent with patients' needs. Healthcare professionals need to assess the meaning of faith for each individual patient and offer services to foster this source of hope.