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Meeting the Spiritual Care Needs of Emerging Adults with Cancer
Open AccessArticle

The Role of the Spiritual Meaning System in Coping with Cancer

Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies, University of Groningen, 9712 GK Groningen, The Netherlands
Viattence, 8161 PC Epe, The Netherlands
Department of Psychology, Health & Technology, University of Twente, Postbox 217, 7500 AE Enschede, The Netherlands
Department of Health Psychology, Faculty of Medical Sciences, University of Groningen, 9713 AV Groningen, The Netherlands
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Religions 2020, 11(1), 49;
Received: 3 November 2019 / Revised: 10 January 2020 / Accepted: 11 January 2020 / Published: 19 January 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Spiritual Care for People with Cancer)
Spirituality can support the adjustment process of people with cancer, by forming a meaning system that supports understanding of the cause and implications of the experience and that provides coping strategies. The different ways in which spiritual meaning systems might fulfill these roles were examined among 20 people who were treated for cancer with curative intent. Narrative interviews were held on average 16 months after cancer diagnosis. The interviews were analyzed in a two-stage process, based on a holistic content approach. The first stage led to the identification of various roles and outcomes of the meaning system. The second stage involved a comparison of these roles and outcomes between previously defined types of meaning systems. The roles identified were discrepancy, legitimation and continuation. Legitimation was associated with the outcome of integration, whereas continuation was associated with an outcome of a positive outlook toward the future. Several differences were found between types of meaning systems, regarding the extent to which and ways in which these roles and outcomes occurred. This study underscores recommendations that healthcare professionals should be aware of the different ways in which the patient’s previous beliefs and experiences influence their current adaptation to serious life events. View Full-Text
Keywords: cancer; Netherlands; qualitative interview; coping; spirituality; meaning system cancer; Netherlands; qualitative interview; coping; spirituality; meaning system
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Visser, A.; Uwland-Sikkema, N.; Westerhof, G.J.; Garssen, B. The Role of the Spiritual Meaning System in Coping with Cancer. Religions 2020, 11, 49.

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