Optimism, quality of life, and coping style in adolescents with cancer
Mannix, Margaret M.
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Objective. To delineate the relationship between optimism and quality of life (QOL) in adolescents with cancer living in the Bronx, New York. Relationships with health-related quality of life (HRQOL) and coping were simultaneously investigated. Method. Optimism was assessed using the Life Orientation Test, Revised (LOT-R). Coping styles were investigated using the KIDCOPE. HRQOL and QOL were measured using the Pediatric Quality of Life Inventory, Cancer Module, Acute Version and The Pediatric Quality of Life Inventory, Generic Core Scale, respectively. All participants were recruited from the same children's hospital in the Bronx. Eligible patients had any type of cancer (at least 1 month since initial diagnosis and not more than 1 year off of treatment) and were between 13 and 21 years old. Results. Forty-six adolescents with cancer participated in this study; the mean age was 16 and the majority were male. This sample was highly optimistic and reported a range of HRQOL and QOL. Optimism was correlated with better perceived physical appearance, better communication with doctors, higher reported psychological functioning, and higher total quality of life. Overall, optimism had more considerable influence on psychosocial domains of functioning and less significant influence on physical functioning. Optimism was also related to positive approach coping style. Negative avoidant coping was associated with poorer psychological and overall quality of life. Conclusions . Optimism is associated with higher quality of life and positive approach coping in inner city adolescents with cancer. Adolescents who reported the highest use and efficacy of negative avoidant coping styles (e.g. resignation, distraction, and social withdrawal) reported lower psychological and overall quality of life, suggesting the employment of these strategies may contribute to poorer psychological functioning. Overall, this sample demonstrated optimistic thinking and resilience. Further research should assess whether interventions that increase optimism lead to greater quality of life in this population.