Journal of Religion and Health

, Volume 54, Issue 4, pp 1249–1265 | Cite as

How Spirituality Helps Cancer Patients with the Adjustment to their Disease

  • Bert GarssenEmail author
  • Nicoline F. Uwland-Sikkema
  • Anja Visser
Original Paper


It has been suggested that spirituality is associated with higher well-being, because it offers social support, improves the relationship with the partner, provides meaning, and reduces self-focus and worry. We performed a qualitative study among ten people with cancer, using the Consensual Qualitative Research method for the analysis of semi-structured interviews. Support was found for the mechanisms of meaning provision and of reduction of self-focus and worries. Participants also mentioned emotion-focused roles of spirituality: Feeling supported by a transcendental confidant, the expression of negative emotions (in prayer), acceptance, allowing feelings of misery, and viewing problems from a distance. There was no mention of a contribution of spirituality to adjustment through improved social support per se or a higher quality of the relationship with the partner. The results of the present study indicate that the role of spirituality in emotion regulation deserves attention in understanding how spirituality helps cancer patients to adjust to their disease.


Cancer Adaptation Interviews Spirituality Consensual qualitative research 



This work was financed by the Dutch Cancer Society; Grant Number HDI 2008-4076.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Bert Garssen
    • 1
    Email author
  • Nicoline F. Uwland-Sikkema
    • 1
  • Anja Visser
    • 1
  1. 1.Helen Dowling InstituteCenter for Psycho-OncologyUtrechtThe Netherlands

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