Dispositional optimism is a cognitive construct that is characterized by having hope and positive expectations about future outcomes and having goals in life. This viewpoint may be difficult when having Huntington’s disease (HD) because of the progressive nature of the disease. However, many who suffer from incurable and life-threatening disorders attain positive attitudes and affective states and find purpose in life, which has not been studied previously in patients with HD. Dispositional optimism shows stability over time, and therefore can be considered a true disposition and a facet of personality. Studies have shown that dispositional optimism is association with beneficial somatic, social, and psychological outcomes, like reduced risks of cardiovascular mortality and of major depression.Aims
To assess the prevalence of dispositional optimism and its clinical correlates in both premanifest and manifest HD gene expansion carriers (HDGECs) and controls.Methods
The revised Life Orientation Test (LOT-R) and the 4-item questionnaire (4Q) were used to assess dispositional optimism in 85 HDGECs and 32 controls.Results
HDGECs had significantly lower dispositional optimism scores on both scales compared to non-carriers (p<0.05). Lineair regression analysis showed that lower dispositional optimism was related to having a depression or apathy. HDGECs without a lifetime diagnosis of depression had a significantly higher LOT-R score (p=0.04). Overall, there was a gradual decrease in optimism during the disease progression (p<0.001).Conclusions
Dispositional optimism is lower in more advanced stages of HD and is inversely related to depression.