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Hope in psychiatry: a review of the literature


Dr Beate Schrank, Department of Psychiatry, Medical University & General Hospital Vienna, Waehringerguertel 18-20, 1090 Vienna, Austria.


Objective:  Hope has long been considered an important therapeutic factor in medicine, nursing and mental health and recently received attention as a central component of recovery. However, conceptual clarity, applicability and the predictive value of hope remain unclear. This review aims to define hope, review current approaches to assessment, and outline research evidence linking hope with effectiveness.

Method:  We conducted a comprehensive review of publications on the conceptualisation and measurement of hope, and on its use as a predictive variable specifically in mental health patients.

Results:  Forty-nine definitions of hope were identified, which were grouped into seven emergent dimensions. Thirty-two measurement tools were identified, although few have been used in research involving mental health patients. Eleven studies investigated hope as a predictive variable for differing outcomes, with inconclusive results.

Conclusion:  Many conceptual frameworks for hope have been proposed, but empirical evidence on its predictive power in mental health is lacking.