Optimism among cancer patients: The oncology nursing perspective

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose/Objectives: To provide a comprehensive overview of knowledge needed to recognize and to promote optimism and its implications for nursing practice and research. Data Sources: Online searches including dictionaries, web sites, and published articles from 2000-2010; classic research from 1980s-1990s were included. PubMed and CINHAL ® were searched for the terms optimism and oncology nursing. Data Synthesis: Recognizing aspects that can favor or affect a patient's optimistic personality trait includes grieving process, health care information, spirituality, cultural beliefs, support systems, past experiences, and coping, will help nurses to understand the patient's and family's optimistic attitudes, decision processes, and communication of symptoms and fears. Optimism may provide patients and caregivers with positive resources, such as problem solving, coping mechanisms, and social support integration. Conclusions: Cancer has psychological as well as physiological manifestations in which optimism can influence positively or negatively. Optimistic patients expect good outcomes and set goals for the future. With this knowledge, nurses can recognize and promote optimism and integrate it as part of oncology nursing care. Implications for Nursing: Optimism in cancer nursing includes realistic as well as unrealistic optimism, caregiver optimism, optimism/pessimism, dispositional optimism, and interventions to bolster optimism. Promoting optimism will require that oncology nurses assess their own beliefs and attitudes towards optimism and cancer care, develop skills of listening, observing, communicating, develop cultural competence, and provide culturally sensitive care. Oncology nurses could benefit by assessing, at different intervals of nursing encounters with patients if optimism, rather than pessimism, is present. Implementing innovative interventions that bolster optimism should continue to be a goal in oncology nursing practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)18-39
Number of pages22
JournalJournal of Gynecologic Oncology Nursing
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2012


  • Oncology nursing
  • Optimism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Oncology(nursing)
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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