Hopelessness at the end of life: The utility of the hopelessness scale with terminally ill cancer patients Journal Article


Authors: Abbey, J. G.; Rosenfeld, B.; Pessin, H.; Breitbart, W.
Article Title: Hopelessness at the end of life: The utility of the hopelessness scale with terminally ill cancer patients
Abstract: Objectives. We sought to investigate the utility of the Beck Hopelessness Scale (HS) in a sample of terminally ill cancer patients by examining the scale properties. Moreover, we sought to identify and remove potentially problematic items in order to ascertain a "purer" index of hopelessness for this population. Design. A cross-sectional study of 200 hospice inpatients with a life expectancy of less than 6 months. The HS, as well as several other distress measures, were administered to patients at bedside by trained clinicians. Methods. An item analysis of the HS was conducted, looking specifically at item endorsement and item-total correlations. Three abbreviated versions (3-item 7-item, 13-item) were developed based on certain denoted item-total correlation cut-offs. Reliability and validity of the original 20-item HS was then compared to that of the newly developed abbreviated version. Results. All scales were found to be reliable and valid measures of hopelessness. The three abbreviated versions were more highly correlated with the distress measures than the original version, and the 7-item and 13-item subscales outperformed the original HS in the prediction of suicidal ideation and desire for hastened death. Conclusion. The data suggest that the HS may be improved, when applied to a terminally ill sample, by the elimination of problematic items. The development of a shorter, purer measure of hopelessness for this population is crucial given the need to reduce the burden placed on those who participate in end-of-life studies, and the important role of hopelessness in the prediction of suicide and desire for hastened death. © 2006 The British Psychological Society.
Keywords: adult; controlled study; aged; aged, 80 and over; middle aged; major clinical study; cancer patient; neoplasms; questionnaires; sickness impact profile; terminally ill; depression; data analysis; suicide; hospital patient; physician; new york city; ethnic difference; statistical model; attitude to death; correlational study; psychometrics; hospice care; suicidal ideation; terminal disease; beck hopelessness scale; medical futility
Journal Title: British Journal of Health Psychology
Volume: 11
Issue: 2
ISSN: 1359-107X
Publisher: The British Psychological Society  
Date Published: 2006-05-01
Start Page: 173
End Page: 183
Language: English
DOI: 10.1348/135910705x36749
PUBMED: 16643692
PROVIDER: scopus
DOI/URL:
Notes: --- - "Cited By (since 1996): 12" - "Export Date: 4 June 2012" - "CODEN: BJHPF" - "Source: Scopus"
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MSK Authors
  1. William S Breitbart
    359 Breitbart
  2. Hayley Ann Pessin
    71 Pessin