In patients with cancer, clinicians can encourage hope through dialogue, sincerity, and reassurance, as well as by assessing and considering the patients’ needs, symptoms, psychological frailty, and their religious/spiritual resources, according to a study published online ahead of print in the journal Annals of Oncology.1

Because there is limited evidence on the relationship between hope and other factors in patients with nonadvanced cancer, researchers in Italy sought to explore the association between hope, symptoms, needs, and religiosity/spirituality in patients treated in a Supportive Care Unit.

For the study, researchers surveyed 300 patients and analyzed their clinical and demographic data. Participants were asked to complete the needs evaluation questionnaire (NEQ) 2, the Edmonton Symptom Assessment System (ESAS), the Hope Herth Index (HHI), and the System of Belief Inventory (SBI). A total of 276 patients completed the HHI questionnaire.

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Results showed that patients with higher HHI scores were less educated (P<.001), reported lower ESAS total scores (P<.001), and had been referred to psychologist less often than those with lower HHI scores (P=.002). Researchers found that patients with a higher HHI score also reported higher spirituality (P<.001).

The study also demonstrated that the need to have sincere clinicians, better dialogue and more reassurance from clinicians, better attention and respect for intimacy from nurses, to speak with people who are going through a similar experience, to be more assured by relatives, and to feel less abandoned were associated with HHI score.

Those with more spirituality/religiosity were also more likely to have higher HHI scores.


1. Ripamonti CJ, Miccinesi G, Pessi MA, et al. Is it possible to encourage hope in non-advanced cancer patients? We must try [published online ahead of print December 17, 2015].

Ann Oncol. doi:10.1093/annonc/mdv614.