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Journal of Religion and Health

, Volume 53, Issue 6, pp 1706–1716 | Cite as

“Trust in the Lord”: Religious and Spiritual Practices of African American Breast Cancer Survivors

  • Beverly Lynn
  • Grace J. Yoo
  • Ellen G. Levine
Original Paper

Abstract

Few studies have examined the role of religion and spirituality among African American breast cancer patients. This study explored how African American women cope with breast cancer through religious and spiritual practices. Forty-seven African American women who had completed treatment for breast cancer participated in in-depth interviews about their experiences. The majority of the women mentioned using both individual and communal religious and spiritual practices to cope with their breast cancer diagnosis and treatment. The main themes that emerged in terms of the types of religious and spiritual practices included: (1) attendance at religious services, (2) comfort through prayers of others, and (3) encouragement through reading Biblical scriptures. These practices helped women “trust in the Lord” throughout the many challenges of cancer from diagnosis through survivorship. Although this study is exploratory, the findings illustrate how African American women with breast cancer use religious and spiritual practices to cope with their diagnosis and treatment. For clinicians, the findings provides an understanding of spiritual and religious needs in diverse populations and the importance of referring patients onto spiritual and religious resources and support.

Keywords

African American Breast cancer Spiritual practices 

Notes

Acknowledgments

This research was supported by research infrastructure in minority institutions (RIMI) grant 5 P20 MD000544-02 from the National Center for Minority Health and Health Disparities, National Institutes of Health, to San Francisco State University. The collection of cancer incidence data used in this study was supported by the California Department of Public Health as part of the statewide cancer reporting program mandated by California Health and Safety Code Section 103885; the National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance, Epidemiology and End Results Program under contract N01-PC-35136 awarded to the Cancer Prevention Institute of California, contract N01-PC-35139 awarded to the University of Southern California, and contract N02-PC-15105 awarded to the Public Health Institute; and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Program of Cancer Registries, under agreement #U55/CCR921930-02 awarded to the Public Health Institute. The ideas and opinions expressed herein are those of the author(s) and endorsement by the State of California, Department of Public Health the National Cancer Institute, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or their Contractors and Subcontractors are not intended nor should be inferred.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Cancer Disparities Research GroupSan Francisco State UniversitySan FranciscoUSA

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