Epistemic Beliefs: Relationship to Future Expectancies and Quality of Life in Cancer Patients.
CORE, Center for Outcomes Research and Evaluation
Journal of pain and symptom management
Adaptation, Psychological, Humans, Knowledge, Neoplasms, Quality of Life, Regression Analysis
CONTEXT: Expectations about the future (future expectancies) are important determinants of psychological well-being among cancer patients, but the strategies patients use to maintain positive and cope with negative expectancies are incompletely understood.
OBJECTIVES: To obtain preliminary evidence on the potential role of one strategy for managing future expectancies: the adoption of "epistemic beliefs" in fundamental limits to medical knowledge.
METHODS: A sample of 1307 primarily advanced-stage cancer patients participating in a genomic tumor testing study in community oncology practices completed measures of epistemic beliefs, positive future expectancies, and mental and physical health-related quality of life (HRQOL). Descriptive and linear regression analyses were conducted to assess the relationships between these factors and test two hypotheses: 1) epistemic beliefs affirming fundamental limits to medical knowledge ("fallibilistic epistemic beliefs") are associated with positive future expectancies and mental HRQOL, and 2) positive future expectancies mediate this association.
RESULTS: Participants reported relatively high beliefs in limits to medical knowledge (M = 2.94, s.d.=.67) and positive future expectancies (M = 3.01, s.d.=.62) (range 0-4), and relatively low mental and physical HRQOL. Consistent with hypotheses, fallibilistic epistemic beliefs were associated with positive future expectancies (b = 0.11, SE=.03, P< 0.001) and greater mental HRQOL (b = 0.99, SE=.34, P = 0.004); positive expectancies also mediated the association between epistemic beliefs and mental HRQOL (Sobel Z=4.27, P<0.001).
CONCLUSIONS: Epistemic beliefs in limits to medical knowledge are associated with positive future expectancies and greater mental HRQOL; positive expectancies mediate the association between epistemic beliefs and HRQOL. More research is needed to confirm these relationships and elucidate their causal mechanisms.
Han PKJ, Scharnetzki E, Anderson E, et al. Epistemic Beliefs: Relationship to Future Expectancies and Quality of Life in Cancer Patients. J Pain Symptom Manage. 2022;63(4):512-521. doi:10.1016/j.jpainsymman.2021.12.017