Sense of coherence, resilience, and habitual optimism in cancer patients

Elsevier, International Journal of Clinical and Health Psychology, Volume 23, 1 April 2023
Hinz A., Schulte T., Ernst J., Mehnert-Theuerkauf A., Finck C., Wondie Y. et al.

The study shows that resource variables are relevant for understanding the situation of cancer patients. Clinicians who notice low levels of sense of coherence, resilience, or optimisms in their patients will be better prepared for identifying patients in need for interventions. Especially younger patients deserve special attention.

Background/Objective: The aim of this study was to investigate whether the three resource variables sense of coherence, resilience, and dispositional optimism become impaired when people are ill with cancer, whether there are sex and age differences in these variables, and how these variables are associated with quality of life (QoL). Method: A sample of 1108 patients with mixed cancer diagnoses were examined using the Sense of Coherence Scale-3 (SOC-3), the Brief Resilience Scale (BRS), the Life Orientation Test (LOT-R), and the QoL questionnaire EORTC QLQ-C30. Results: The three resource variables showed somewhat lower levels in the patients’ sample in comparison with general population controls, with effect sizes between −0.10 and −0.23. While there were only small sex differences in the resource variables, significant age differences were found in these variables, with stronger detriments in younger patients. The correlations among the resource variables ranged between .53 and .61. Sense of coherence was more strongly correlated with QoL than resilience and optimism. Conclusions: Cancer patients with low levels of personal resources adapt to their disease more poorly than patients with high levels. In addition to limitations in QoL, health care professionals should also consider patients’ resources for coping with the disease. Special attention should be given to young cancer patients.