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Article

Image of God: Effect on Coping and Psychospiritual Outcomes in Early Breast Cancer Survivors

Judith A. Schreiber
ONF 2011, 38(3), 293-301 DOI: 10.1188/11.ONF.293-301

Purpose/Objectives: To examine the effect of breast cancer survivors' views of God on religious coping strategies, depression, anxiety, stress, concerns about recurrence, and psychological well-being.

Design: Exploratory, cross-sectional, comparative survey.

Setting: Outpatients from community and university oncology practices in the southeastern United States.

Sample: 130 early breast cancer survivors (6-30 months postdiagnosis).

Methods: Self-report written survey packets were mailed to practice-identified survivors.

Main Research Variables: Image of God, religious coping strategies, depression, anxiety, stress, concerns about recurrence, and psychological well-being.

Findings: Women who viewed God as highly engaged used more coping strategies to promote spiritual conservation in proportion to coping strategies that reflect spiritual struggle. Women who viewed God as highly engaged maintained psychological well-being when either spiritual conservation or spiritual struggle coping styles were used. No differences in variables were noted for women who viewed God as more or less angry.

Conclusions: The belief in an engaged God is significantly related to increased psychological well-being, decreased psychological distress, and decreased concern about recurrence.

Implications for Nursing: Addressing survivors' issues related to psychological adjustment and concern about recurrence within their world view would allow for more personalized and effective interventions. Future research should be conducted to establish how the view that God is engaged affects coping and psychological adjustment across diverse groups of cancer survivors and groups with monotheistic, polytheistic, and naturalistic world views. This could lead to a practical method for examining the influence of these world views on individuals' responses to cancer diagnosis, treatment, and survivorship.

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