Role of Spirituality in Coping with Breast Cancer
A Qualitative Study of Samoan Breast Cancer Survivors and their Supporters
The use of spirituality for guidance and coping affects the quality of life in many cancer survivors and their supporters. Previous research has focused on coping strategies among cancer and terminally ill survivors, primarily among White and African American women. However, the length and extent to which these strategies have been researched in a cultural and communal context, such as Pacific Islanders, is not documented. The purpose of this qualitative study was to explore spiritual coping among a crosssectional sample of 20 Samoan women diagnosed with breast cancer and 40 of their supporters (family and/or friends) in Southern California. In-depth interviews were conducted retrospectively with survivors and their supporters by trained bilingual/bicultural interviewers. The interviews were recorded, transcribed (and translated where applicable), and analyzed using the grounded theory approach to identify major themes for each group. Results illustrated that spirituality provided considerable emotional and logistical assistance to both survivors and their supporters, with particularly churches playing a potentially important role in the development of social support programs for both groups. This study supports the use of faith-based communities as forums to increase health education and understanding the further use of spiritual coping for cancer survivors, family, and friends.