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Role of religion and spirituality in cancer coping among African Americans: A qualitative examination

Cheryl Holt, PhD1, Emily Schulz, PhD2, Lee Caplan, PhD3, Victor Blake, MD, MTS4, Penny Southward, BS1, Hope Lawrence, MA1, and Ayanna Buckner, MD, MPH3. (1) Division of Preventive Medicine, Univ. of Alabama, Birmingham, 1717 11th Ave. South, Medical Towers, Suite 641, Birmingham, AL 35205, 205-934-2816, cholt@uab.edu, (2) Occupational Therapy, Univ. of Alabama, Birmingham, 1530 3rd Avenue South, Birmingham, AL 35294-3361, (3) Department of Community Health and Preventive Medicine, Morehouse School of Medicine, 720 Westview Drive SW, Atlanta, GA 30310, (4) Morehouse Medical Associates, Morehouse School of Medicine, 75 Piedmont Avenue NE, Atlanta, GA 30303

There is ample literature suggesting that cancer patients rely on religion and/or spirituality (RS) to cope, particularly African Americans. However, what is yet to be determined is HOW they do so, or which aspects of RS are important in cancer coping. Because both religion and spirituality are multifactorial, it is possible that some factors are important in cancer coping and others are less important. Just as there are multiple channels proposed by which RS impacts one's health (e.g., stress reduction, sense of meaning), there are likely multiple mediators of the relationship between RS and cancer coping and survivorship. The present study explored mediators of RS and cancer coping among African Americans. This was done through conducting semi-structured interviews with 30 African American cancer patients. The interview focused on what patients used to cope with their diagnosis and cancer treatment, as well as if and how patients used religion and/or spirituality in coping with cancer. Interviewed patients were six months to five years post-diagnosis. The data were analyzed using an open-coding procedure, with multiple coders, used to establish inter-rater reliability for the codes. The next steps in this research will be to identify existing or to develop new instruments to assess these identified mediators of the RS and coping relationship, and to conduct some mediational analyses in a larger sample to quantitatively answer the research question of HOW RS helps (or hinders) African Americans in coping with cancer.

Learning Objectives:

Keywords: Coping, Cancer

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Not Answered

Handout (.ppt format, 45.5 kb)

The Faith Communities, Social Justice and Health Disparities

The 134th Annual Meeting & Exposition (November 4-8, 2006) of APHA