Optimism, pessimism, and depressive symptoms in spouses of lung cancer patients

Martin Pinquart, Paul R. Duberstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Although large numbers of caregivers of severely ill patients show elevated levels of depression, the considerable variability in caregivers' reactions point to the influence of individual resources and vulnerabilities. The present study assessed how optimism and pessimism relate to depressive symptoms in 138 spouses of lung cancer patients. After statistical control for cancer stage and sociodemographic characteristics, pessimism was related to higher levels of depressive symptoms. No main effect of optimism on depressive symptoms was found. However, an interaction effect of optimism with cancer stage emerged, indicating a negative association between optimism and depressive symptoms in spouses of patients with regional and advanced cancer (stages III and IV). The cross-sectional results were replicated in longitudinal analysis with a subsample of 60 respondents who were still providing care after one year.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)565-578
Number of pages14
JournalPsychology and Health
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2005
Externally publishedYes

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Applied Psychology


  • Cancer
  • Caregivers
  • Depression
  • Psycho-oncology
  • Psychological resources


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