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Women Undergoing Breast Diagnostics: The Lived Experience of Spirituality

Jo Logan
Rebekah Hackbusch-Pinto
Catherine E. De Grasse
ONF 2006, 33(1), 121-126 DOI: 10.1188/06.ONF.121-126

Purpose/Objectives: To explore perceptions of spirituality in women who had undergone a breast diagnostic experience.

Research Approach: Qualitative, phenomenologic study using Giorgi's approach.

Setting: An outpatient comprehensive breast assessment center

Participants: 20 Caucasian women, aged 30-89, who had just completed the diagnostic process, including definitive diagnosis, regarding a breast abnormality.

Methodologic Approach: In-depth, semistructured, tape-recorded, and transcribed interviews analyzed using the Giorgi method of coding, transforming, and synthesizing data.

Main Research Variables: Descriptions of spirituality, spiritual needs, and supporting spirituality.

Findings: Two themes emerged: creating a focused isolation and seeking connections. Women created a private mental world in which to concentrate on the stressful diagnostic process. Within the isolation, women explored their personal strength and their connection to God or their spiritual beliefs. When the stress began to overwhelm, they sought out loved ones for support and diversion. Women found the center's staff to be supportive; however, many did not wish to speak to an agency chaplain during the uncertain period.

Conclusions: Women needed to handle the stress alone, with reliance on spirituality and God that was balanced with a need for specific connections to family members or close friends.

Interpretation: Nurses can support women's need to focus and can assist family members to understand their role during the diagnostic period. The diagnostic period can be used to talk with women about their spiritual beliefs, their needs, and possible referral to a chaplain.

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