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Cancer and faith: does it make a difference among cancer patients and their informal carers?

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published

Journal publication date09/2002
JournalScandinavian Journal of Caring Sciences
Journal number3
Volume16
Number of pages8
Pages256-263
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

This research considers the impact of having a religious faith on the cancer experience of patients and informal carers, focusing primarily on the association between faith and psychosocial needs. A questionnaire survey of 1000 patients in the north-west of England returned 402 completed questionnaires; around two-thirds of patients indicated they had an informal carer. Using logistic regression analysis, we examine the relationship between the importance of 48 needs and faith for 189 paired patients and carers, while controlling for the effect of eight socio-demographic and clinical variables. Patients with expressed faith identified fewer psychosocial needs than those without faith. In contrast, carers with expressed faith identified more needs than those without faith in relation to support from family and neighbours. Carers also needed more help with finding a sense of purpose and meaning, and help in dealing with unpredictability. Not surprisingly, both patients and carers with faith identified a greater need for opportunities for personal prayer, support from people of their own faith and support from a spiritual adviser. Various explanations of these differences between patients and carers are proposed. The crucial point is that one should not too readily assume that the cancer experience is shared in the same way by patients and carers. In understanding the faith dimension, one needs to consider both the spiritual and secular aspects of having a religious faith.