The Impact of Optimism on Cancer-Related and Postsurgical Cancer Pain: A Systematic Review

Antonio J. Forte, Gunel Guliyeva, Heidi McLeod, Abd Moain Abu Dabrh, Manisha Salinas, Francisco R. Avila, Adam Perlman

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Background: The impact of psychological factors on pain levels continues to be of interest throughout a cancer patient's journey. The relationship between pain and optimism has been described previously in patients with various diseases. Objectives: We further investigated the effect of optimism on pain levels felt by patients diagnosed and living with cancer before and after surgery. Materials and Methods: The search strategy for relevant articles from inception through June 2020 included five databases. The main outcome of interest was the effect of optimism on cancer-related pain. Results: We identified 482 studies. After the full-text screening, seven articles meeting the inclusion criteria were included. Seven studies were analyzed and are included in the data table. Of the seven included articles, four articles described the association of optimism with cancer pain; four articles studied the relationship between optimism and chronic postsurgical pain (CPSP), and one article investigated optimism's relationship with acute postsurgical pain (APSP). All articles observed a negative correlation between optimism and pain levels. Conclusion: Despite the differences in the pathophysiology of pain types investigated, and which stage of the patient's journey pain was experienced, all studies reported a negative association with the level of optimism and pain described by patients. Therefore, promoting and supporting psychological coping techniques, including optimism for cancer patients may decrease patients’ suffering, increase their quality of life at different cancer stages, and reduce opioid use.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e203-e211
JournalJournal of pain and symptom management
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2022


  • Acute post-operative pain
  • acute postsurgical pain
  • cancer pain
  • chronic post-operative pain
  • chronic postsurgical pain
  • optimism

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nursing(all)
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Anesthesiology and Pain Medicine


Dive into the research topics of 'The Impact of Optimism on Cancer-Related and Postsurgical Cancer Pain: A Systematic Review'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this