Health and hope--Perceptions of Cancer patients and well adults




Nelson-Marten, Paula

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Two separate, yet related, constructs--health and hope--formed the basis for the study. A theoretical framework, merging health and hope, was constructed using Gibbs' (1972) method of theory construction. The theory assumed that three concepts (variables), definition of health, perception of health state, and hope, were intertwined and that perception of health state related to definition of health and to hope, and vice versa.

The problem of the study was twofold: (a) to describe how cancer patients and healthy individuals defined health, perceived their own health stage, and perceived the phenomenon of hope; and (b) to determine whether relationships exist between a person's definition of health, the person's perception of his own health state, and the person's level of hope. Predictors of hope were sought.

A descriptive-correlational study was conducted to determine whether there was a significant difference in the scores on three instruments, the Laffrey Health Conception Scale, the Ware Health Perceptions Questionnaire, and the Nowotny Hope Scale, between 40 cancer patients secured through a local medical center, and 40 healthy individuals secured through the assistance of a fitness center and a bank. Eighty study participants, between ages 25 and 55, were matched by gender and age.

The findings of the study included: (1) Subjects from both groups rated their health in a realistic manner and similar to their objective health states. (2) A significant difference was not found for the definition of health variable between the two groups. However, a significant effect was found for subscale 2, the Role Performance Model. (3) Significant differences were found for both the perception of health state, and hope variables, as well as significant interaction effects for several variable subscales. (4) Significant relationships were found to exist between and among all three variables, especially between definition of health and hope, and between perception of health state and hope. (5) The variables which emerged as predicting hope differed by group; "health outlook" was selected by both groups, and "current health" by the healthy group. (6) Relationships, set forth by the theory constructed for the study, were shown to exist.



Perception of Health state, Perception of Hope, Healthy individuals, Cancer patients