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U-M Research Shows Chronically Ill Patients Might Be Happier if They Give Up Hope
Date:11/2/2009

current situation."

The research was published in this month's edition of Health Psychology.

Ubel was joined in the research by Dylan M. Smith, Ph.D., a research specialist at the Ann Arbor VA Health Services Research and Development Center and a U-M psychologist; Aleksandra Jankovic, of U-M's Center for Behavioral and Decision Sciences in Medicine and George Loewenstein, professor in the Department of Social and Decision Sciences at Carnegie Mellon University.

Loewenstein said these results also may explain why people who lose a spouse to death often recover better emotionally over time than those who get divorced.

"If your husband or wife dies, you have closure. There aren't any lingering possibilities for reconciliation," Loewenstein said.

Ubel said health professionals find it easier to deliver optimistic news to patients even when they believe the prognosis is unfavorable, justifying it by assuming that holding on to hope was better for the patient.

Said Loewenstein: "It may be easier for a doctor to deliver a hopeful message to a patient, even when there isn't much objective reason for hope, but it may not be best for the patient."

"Hopeful messages may not be in the best interests of the patient and may interfere with the patient's emotional adaptation," Ubel says. "I don't think we should take hope away. But I think we have to be careful about building up people's hope so much that they put off living their lives."

The research was funded by the National Institute on Child Health and Human Development. Smith was supported by a career development award from the Department of Veterans Affairs.

SOURCE University of Michigan Health System


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SOURCE University of Michigan Health System
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