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J Relig Health. 2015 Aug;54(4):1249-65. doi: 10.1007/s10943-014-9864-9.

How Spirituality Helps Cancer Patients with the Adjustment to their Disease.

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Helen Dowling Institute, Center for Psycho-Oncology, Rubenslaan 190, 3582 JJ, Utrecht, The Netherlands,


It has been suggested that spirituality is associated with higher well-being, because it offers social support, improves the relationship with the partner, provides meaning, and reduces self-focus and worry. We performed a qualitative study among ten people with cancer, using the Consensual Qualitative Research method for the analysis of semi-structured interviews. Support was found for the mechanisms of meaning provision and of reduction of self-focus and worries. Participants also mentioned emotion-focused roles of spirituality: Feeling supported by a transcendental confidant, the expression of negative emotions (in prayer), acceptance, allowing feelings of misery, and viewing problems from a distance. There was no mention of a contribution of spirituality to adjustment through improved social support per se or a higher quality of the relationship with the partner. The results of the present study indicate that the role of spirituality in emotion regulation deserves attention in understanding how spirituality helps cancer patients to adjust to their disease.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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