“Let Go, Let God”: A Qualitative Study Exploring Cancer Patients’ Spirituality and Its Place in the Medical Setting


This study explored the role of God and spirituality in cancer patients to gain deeper insight into how patients use their spirituality to cope during illness, including how they see the medical team meeting their spiritual needs. From our work, some naturally emerging themes included Finding God in Cancer and Healing, Spiritual Support Desired from Medical Community, Doctor as “Gift from God”?, and Communication and the Power of Talk. Cancer patients not only acknowledged a spiritual need, but a desire for it to be addressed by their medical team as part of their treatment.

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This study was supported by Grant # 36441 from the John F. Templeton Foundation (BNP, TCS, FJH, GF).

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Correspondence to Toni Marie Cipriano-Steffens.

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Informed consent was obtained from all participants involved in the study.

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Appendix: Patient Interview

Spirituality’s Role in Coping with Cancer

Demographics Section

To start off with, I would like to ask you a few questions about yourself.


Cognitive Interview: Includes Two Questions and Scripted/Spontaneous Probes

Thank you for agreeing to participate in this research study. Please answer the questions as carefully as possible as we are interested in the ways you arrive at your answers. If you have difficulty answering any of the questions, please state so, even if the reasons might seem unimportant to you. Thank you.


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Cipriano-Steffens, T.M., Carilli, T., Hlubocky, F. et al. “Let Go, Let God”: A Qualitative Study Exploring Cancer Patients’ Spirituality and Its Place in the Medical Setting. J Relig Health 59, 2341–2363 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10943-019-00942-3

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  • Cancer
  • Doctor
  • Spirituality
  • Religion
  • God
  • Communication
  • Chaplaincy