• hopelessness;
  • hope;
  • depression;
  • social support;
  • breast cancer recurrence;
  • oncology


Objective: The Hopelessness Theory of Depression provides the framework to test feelings of hopelessness and social support as predictors of depressive symptoms in women recently diagnosed with a recurrence of breast cancer.

Methods: Patients (N=67) were assessed within weeks of receiving their recurrence diagnosis (initial) and again 4 months later (follow-up).

Results: Controlling for their current physical and depressive symptoms, hopelessness at diagnosis was a significant predictor of the maintenance of depressive symptoms among patients. A corollary of the theory was also confirmed: social support (i.e. the presence/absence of a romantic partner) interacted with hopelessness.

Conclusions: Women who reported feelings of hopelessness and who were alone (i.e. without a partner) were especially vulnerable to later depressive symptoms. The data provide support for the Hopelessness Theory and suggest factors conferring risk for depressive symptoms for those coping with a worsened cancer prognosis. Copyright © 2008 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.