Purpose/Objectives: To explore the meaning, function, and focus of prayer for patients with advanced cancer, and to identify the effects of prayer on their coping.
Research Approach: Qualitative, descriptive design using focus groups.
Setting: Three cancer centers that are part of a university-affiliated comprehensive cancer network in the northeastern United States.
Participants: 13 adult, female outpatients receiving active treatment for ovarian or lung cancer.
Methodologic Approach: Two semistructured, focus group interviews were conducted. Audiotapes were transcribed verbatim. Data were coded and analyzed using standard content analysis procedures.
Main Research Variables: Prayer and coping.
Findings: Four themes emerged: finding one's own way, renewed appreciation for life, provision of strength and courage, and gaining a stronger spiritual connection. In addition, praying for others, conversational prayer, petitionary prayer, ritual prayer, and thanksgiving prayer were used most often by participants to cope.
Conclusions: The findings support prayer as a positive coping mechanism for women with advanced ovarian or lung cancer.
Interpretation: The study provides knowledge about prayer as a source of spiritual and psychological support. Oncology nurses should consider the use of prayer for patients coping with advanced cancer.