• Article

Hopelessness and complementary therapy use in patients with ovarian cancer

Background: Hopelessness negatively affects ovarian cancer patients’ quality of life (QOL). Research validating the effects of complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) use on QOL and hope is scarce, even though QOL and hope are reasons that patients cite for using CAM therapy. Clinicians need effective, evidence-based interventions to improve QOL and reduce hopelessness.

Objective: The objectives of this study were to examine factors influencing hopelessness in patients with newly diagnosed disease, long-term survivors, and patients experiencing ovarian cancer recurrence and to examine the effects of CAM on hopelessness in the same population.

Methods: Surveys of ovarian cancer patients (N = 219) undergoing treatment at a comprehensive cancer center in the United States were analyzed. Descriptive, correlation, and multivariate analyses described variables and demonstrated the effects of sociodemographics, disease state, psychological distress, QOL, CAM use, and faith on hopelessness.

Results: Patients ages 65 years or older (?0.95, P = .03), with strong faith (?0.28, P = .00), and good QOL (0.11, P = .00) directly reduced hopelessness scores (mean, 3.37). Massage therapy substantially reduced hopelessness scores (?1.07, P = .02); holding age constant, employed patients were twice as likely to use massage (odds ratio, 2.09; P = .04). Patients who had newly diagnosed and recurrent ovarian cancer were more hopeless because of greater distress from symptoms and adverse effects of treatment.

Conclusion: Patients who used massage therapy were significantly less hopeless, as were those with strong faith and well-controlled disease symptoms and treatment for adverse effects.

Implications for Practice: Support of spiritual needs and symptom management are important interventions to prevent and/or reduce hopelessness, especially for patients with newly diagnosed and recurrent ovarian cancer. Further research testing the positive effect of massage interventions on hopelessness is needed.


Gross, AH., Cromwell, J., Fonteyn, M., Matulonis, U., & Hayman, LL. (2013). Hopelessness and complementary therapy use in patients with ovarian cancer. Cancer Nursing, 36(4), 256-264. https://doi.org/10.1097/NCC.0b013e31826f3bc4