Dimensionality, Stability, and Validity of the Beck Hopelessness Scale in Cancer Patients Receiving Curative and Palliative Treatment.

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Hopelessness is a clinically important construct in patients with advanced illness. To evaluate the dimensionality, stability, and validity of the Beck Hopelessness Scale (BHS) in cancer patients receiving either curative or palliative treatment. Following a longitudinal design, we assessed a sample of cancer patients receiving either curative or palliative treatment (N = 315) at baseline and at follow-up after 12 months (N = 158). In addition to hopelessness, we measured depression (Patient Health Questionnaire-9), anxiety (General Anxiety Disorder-7), and health-related quality of life (Short-Form Health Survey-8). We analyzed dimensionality, stability, and construct validity of the BHS using confirmatory factor analysis, exploratory factor analysis and correlational analysis. Independent of treatment intention, confirmatory factor analyses resulted in unsatisfactory model fits. Exploratory factor analysis yielded a two-factor solution in both groups receiving curative or palliative treatment. Factor 1 reflected pessimistic/resigned beliefs (Cronbach alpha ≥ 0.85), Factor 2 reflected positive beliefs toward the future (Cronbach alpha = 0.73). Both subscales showed significant associations with anxiety, depression, and decreased health-related quality of life. The factorial structure was partially replicated in patients being reexamined after 12 months (CMIN/DF = 2.130, Standardized Root Mean Square Residual = 0.0716, Comparative Fit Index = 0.904, Tucker-Lewis-Index = 0.883, Root Mean Square Error of Approximation = 0.085). Hopelessness scores were significantly higher in patients reporting suicidal ideation according to the Patient Health Questionnaire-9. Our study demonstrates psychometric limitations of the BHS in patients receiving both curative and palliative treatment, suggesting reduced utility in cancer populations. Given the clinical importance of the construct, a cancer-specific approach to capture the unique meaning of hopelessness in patients with severe medical illness is recommended.
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Beck Hopelessness Scale, Hopelessness, advanced illness, cancer, confirmatory factor analysis