Imagine I splay out a full deck of cards face down and promise to give you 50 bucks if you pick a queen. Oblige me and pull one card, knowing your chance of success is ~8%. If you experience a pleasurable feeling in association with your belief that turning over the card might make you richer, you have hope.
Now keep the setup the same, except I inform you that I've removed all four queens. Once again oblige me by pulling a card from the deck. If you're not convinced of my claim about the missing queens, you can feel hopeful of winning the cash. Your subjective experience of hope may feel exactly the same as before. But since your pleasurable feeling is linked to an erroneous belief, this time you are experiencing false hope....
To detect false hope, scrutinize the foundation of patients' beliefs regarding their chance for the desired outcome. Patients who anchor their belief in facts nurture healthy, life-enhancing hope. In contrast, those who base their belief on inaccurate information or wishful thinking foster false hope.
False hope can lead patients away from wise treatment decisions that reflect patients' values and priorities. Thus false hope can strip patients of dignity, meaningfulness, comfort and joy that are possible at the end of life.
Click here to read why patients may nourish false hope and how Healthy Survivors can address it.