Expecting the best and the worst: co-occurrence and temporal tability of optimism/pessimism in breast cancer

  • F. Saboonchi
  • L. Petersson
  • K. Alexandersson
  • R. Bränsström
  • A. Wennman-Larsen


Dispositional optimism is a key personality resource of resiliency among women with breast cancer. We examined a) whether future outcomes expectancies potentially include independent and concurrent positive and negative dimensions, b) the temporal stability of dispositional optimism, c) the predictive impact of Optimism/Pessimism on emotional distress. Methods Design: a prospective cohort study of 750 women with breast cancer initiated shortly after surgery and followed up for two years. Assessments: LOT-R, HADS, treatment-related and demographic variables. Analysis: Structural Equation Modelling including Confirmatory Factor Analysis, Latent Profile Analysis, and Latent Growth Curve modeling. Results A longitudinal invariant bi-dimensional structure of LOT-R was confirmed, as was the temporal stability of optimism/pessimism over two years . Three latent profiles labeled Optimists, Pessimists, and Ambiguous were discerned. Baseline optimism inversely predicted emotional distress two years later. Women with higher education displayed higher degrees of pessimism and anxiety. Discussion The co-occurrence of positive and negative future expectancies may indicate a caution defensive coping effort among women with breast cancer. Stability of dispositional optimism/pessimism emphasizes the importance of systematic efforts to enhance this source of resiliency.
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