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Open Access Research article

Interaction of hope and optimism with anxiety and depression in a specific group of cancer survivors: a preliminary study

Rama K Rajandram1, Samuel MY Ho2, Nabil Samman4, Natalie Chan3, Colman McGrath5 and Roger A Zwahlen4*

  • * Corresponding author: Roger A Zwahlen

  • † Equal contributors

Author Affiliations

1 Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery, Faculty of Dentistry, The National University of Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

2 Department of Applied Social Studies, The City University of Hong Kong, Tat Chee Avenue, Kowloon Tong, Hong Kong SAR, People's Republic of China

3 Dept of Psychology, The University of Hong Kong, Knowles Building, Kowloon Tong, Hong Kong SAR, People's Republic of China

4 Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery, Faculty of Dentistry, The University of Hong Kong, 34,Hospital Road, Kowloon Tong, Hong Kong SAR, People's Republic of China

5 Dept. of Public Health, Faculty of Dentistry, The University of Hong Kong, 34 Hospital Road, Kowloon Tong, Hong Kong SAR, People's Republic of China

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BMC Research Notes 2011, 4:519  doi:10.1186/1756-0500-4-519

Published: 28 November 2011



Anxiety and depression have been identified as a common psychological distress faced by the majority of cancer patients. With the increasing number of cancer cases, increasing demands will be placed on health systems to address effective psychosocial care and therapy. The objective of this study was to assess the possible role of hope and optimism on anxiety and depression. We also wanted to investigate if there is a specific component of hope that could play a role in buffering anxiety and depression amongst cancer patients.


A retrospective cross sectional study was conducted in the outpatient station of the Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery at the University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong SAR, PR-China. Fifty patients successfully treated for OC cancer were recruited after their informed consents had been obtained during the review clinic. During their regular follow-up controls in the outpatient clinic the patients compiled the hospital anxiety and depression scale (HADS), hope scale (HS) and the life orientation scale-revised (LOT-R).


Hope was negatively correlated with depression (r = -.55, p < .001) and anxiety (r = -.38, p < .05). Similar pattern was found between optimism and the latter adjustment outcomes (depression: r = -.55, p < .001; anxiety: r = -.35, p < .05). Regression analyses indentified that both hope and optimism were significant predictors of depression. Hope and optimism had equal association with depression (hope: β = .40 versus optimism: β = .38). Hope and optimism together were significantly predictive of anxiety, whereas neither hope nor optimism alone was significant individual predictors of anxiety.


Hope and optimism both negatively correlated with patients' level of anxiety and depression. Besides theoretical implications, this study brings forward relevant findings related to developing specific clinical psychological care in the field of oncology that to date has not been researched specifically in the field of oncology. The results of this study will help guide the direction of future prospective studies in the field of oncology. This will contribute significantly to increasing patients quality of life as well enabling health care facilities to provide all cancer patients a more holistic cancer care.