Breaking Bad News to Patients With Breast Cancer—The Benefits of Hope and Optimism [9L]

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Receiving a diagnosis of breast cancer can be devastating. In the interest of avoiding false hope, health care professionals may break the news without imparting a sense of optimism. Studies reflect that optimistic patients may have a greater sense of well-being and employ useful coping skills. Incorporating strategies for optimism could be an important psychological intervention.


A literature review using standard search engines was utilized which involved a total of 7 scholarly articles, journals and websites devoted to breast cancer, hope and optimism.


Studies reflected in multiple articles suggested that optimistic breast cancer patients may be less susceptible to depression and have a greater sense of well-being. Optimists often employ coping traits such as self-transcendence (finding meaning), mindfulness (mitigating negative thinking and worry) resilience (imparting strength in adversity), positive reframing, humor, and spirituality. These traits may help breast cancer patients improve their ability to adjust emotionally and psychologically. Studies show optimism may also help reduce stress and avoid or lessen depressive symptoms, may foster better mental and emotional adjustment, and promote feelings of physical attractiveness. Installing interventions that promote optimism with auxiliary coping skills would be a practical way to empower patients with coping tools requiring no additional pharmacological resources.


Optimism can be acquired through behavioral modifications. Hospitals and clinics should consider developing optimism intervention strategies and begin teaching them to patients at the point of diagnosis. This could help empower women to immediately begin employing positive coping skills.

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