Prayer and Faith: Spiritual Coping among American Indian Women Cancer Survivors


By bhadmin February 2, 2021

Although cancer disparities among American Indian (AI) women are alarming, research on spiritual coping among this population is virtually nonexistent. This is particularly problematic, given the importance of medical practitioners’ discussing the topic with cancer patients, along with the centrality of spirituality to many AI patients. The purpose of this article was to explore AI women cancer survivors’ spiritual coping with their experiences. Using a community-based participatory research approach, this qualitative descriptive study included a sample of 43 AI women cancer survivors (n = 14 breast cancer, n = 14 cervical cancer, and n = 15 colon and other types of cancer). Qualitative content analysis revealed that most participants (76 percent, n = 32) cited prayer as an important part of their cancer recovery and coping strategies. Many participants expressed how prayer and spirituality connected them to family, to faith communities, and to others. In addition to prayer, over a third (36 percent, n = 15) of participants emphasized faith as a recovery and coping strategy. Results indicate that most women drew great comfort, strength, hope, and relief from their spiritual and faith traditions, indicating that religious and spiritual practices may be an important protective factor against the strain of the cancer experience.

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