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Psychooncology. 2007 Jul;16(7):676-87.

Effects of prayer and religious expression within computer support groups on women with breast cancer.

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  • 1The Centre of Excellence in Cancer Communication Research, University of Wisconsin-Madison, USA.


Research indicates that two common ways breast cancer patients or women with breast cancer cope with their diagnosis and subsequent treatments are participating in computer support groups and turning to religion. This study is the first we are aware of to examine how prayer and religious expression within computer support groups can contribute to improved psychosocial outcomes for this population. Surveys were administered before group access and then 4 months later. Message transcripts were analyzed using a word counting program that noted the percentage of words related to religious expression. Finally, messages were qualitatively reviewed to better understand results generated from the word counting program. As hypothesized, writing a higher percentage of religion words was associated with lower levels of negative emotions and higher levels of health self-efficacy and functional well-being, after controlling for patients' levels of religious beliefs. Given the proposed mechanisms for how these benefits occurred and a review of the support group transcripts, it appeared that several different religious coping methods were used such as putting trust in God about the course of their illness, believing in an afterlife and therefore being less afraid of death, finding blessings in their lives and appraising their cancer experience in a more constructive religious light.

Copyright 2006 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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