Illusions in advanced cancer : the effect of belief systems and attitudes on quality of life

Beadle, Geoffrey F., Yates, Patsy, Najman, Jackob M., Clavarino, Alexandra, Thomson, David, Williams, Gail, Kenny, Liz, Roberts, Syd, Mason, Bernard R., & Schlecht, David (2004) Illusions in advanced cancer : the effect of belief systems and attitudes on quality of life. Psycho-Oncology, 13(1), pp. 26-36.

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Patients with advanced cancer frequently express positive attitudes and can be unduly optimistic about the potential benefits of treatment. In order to evaluate an illusory domain in the context of advanced cancer, we developed a scale of will to live and characterized the beliefs that patients held about the curability of their cancer, and how committed they were to using alternative treatments. A measure of quality of life was used as the dependent variable in order to assess the association between these attributes. After a preliminary exploration confirmed the presence of an illusory domain, these concepts were prospectively tested in 149 ambulant patients with advanced cancer who attended for palliative systemic treatment, radiation treatment or supportive care. The scale of global quality of life was reliable (Cronbach's alpha coefficient 0.72). The distribution of the scores of will to live was skewed, with no respondent scoring poorly, and the scale was reliable (Cronbach's alpha coefficient 0.82). The scale of belief in curability showed diverse beliefs. In some cases, there was a discrepancy between respondents' beliefs in curability and what they believed to be the report by their doctors. There was also an association between a committed use of alternative treatments and a belief in the curability of the cancer (p<0.001). In a multiple regression analysis, both will to live and performance status remained associated with better quality of life scores after adjustment for other relevant variables (p<0.05 and <0.001, respectively). These results suggest that positive illusory beliefs can be measured and are an important component of adaption for some patients with advanced cancer. Furthermore, this illusory domain may influence the perception and measurement of quality of life.

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17 citations in Scopus
13 citations in Web of Science®
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ID Code: 1334
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
DOI: 10.1002/pon.722
ISSN: 1057-9249
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES (110000) > NURSING (111000) > Clinical Nursing - Secondary (Acute Care) (111003)
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Health
Current > Institutes > Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2004 John Wiley & Sons
Copyright Statement: The definite version is available on publication at
Deposited On: 13 Oct 2005 00:00
Last Modified: 29 Feb 2012 13:10

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