Positive psychological constructs (e.g., optimism and hope) have been associated with superior health outcomes in the recovery from hematopoietic stem cell transplantation (HSCT) in prior work. However, such studies have not examined a broad range of positive psychological constructs, their sources or evolution over time, or their connections with key health behaviors. We used semistructured qualitative interviews in 25 HSCT patients to explore the nature and sources of positive psychological experiences during the first 100 days after transplantation.
Participants completed interviews during their HSCT hospitalization and approximately 100 days after transplantation. Transcribed interviews were organized and analyzed using NVivo 12 software by two coders (κ = 0.92). Interviews focused on the breadth of positive psychological experiences, their sources and evolution during the 100 days, and participants' perceived impact of positive constructs on health behaviors.
Several positive psychological constructs especially gratitude, determination, and optimism were frequently expressed. Family support and deliberate participation in pleasant and meaningful activities were the two primary sources of positive psychological experiences after HSCT. At baseline, participants consistently reported gratitude for their donors while follow-up was consistently characterized by hope for cure and return to baseline level of functioning. Additionally, participants related bidirectional relationships between positive psychological well-being experiences and completion of health behaviors over time.
As one of the first qualitative studies characterizing the breadth, sources, and evolution of positive psychological experiences in HSCT patients, these findings add to the literature aimed at understanding psychological well-being in this complex and growing patient population.