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A Meta-Analysis of hope enhancement strategies in clinical and community settings

Abstract

Background

The last two decades have seen the development of theoretical models of hope, which have greatly influenced the field of positive psychology and the study of well-being. Recently, there has been increased interest in using these theories to create interventions and other strategies to enhance hopefulness among clinic-referred individuals and members of the community. We used meta-analysis to determine whether these hope enhancement strategies were associated with (a) increased hopefulness, (b) improved life satisfaction, and (c) decreased psychological distress among participants.

Results

Analysis of 27 studies involving 2, 154 participants showed significant, but small, effect sizes for hopefulness and life satisfaction and no overall relationship between hope enhancement strategies and decreased psychological distress. Moderation tests indicated greater effect sizes for studies involving brief interventions, conducted in laboratory settings, and administered to students or individuals recruited from the community. Results also suggested publication bias.

Conclusions

As the current study provides only modest evidence for the ability of hope enhancement strategies to increase hopefulness or life satisfaction and no consistent evidence that hope enhancement strategies can alleviate psychological distress., traditional psychotherapeutic interventions or other effective positive psychological constructs (e.g., gratitude, optimism, mindfulness) might best be targeted in applied settings.