Spiritual thoughts, coping and 'sense of coherence' in brain tumour patients and their spouses

Strang, S.; Strang, P.
March 2001
Palliative Medicine;Mar2001, Vol. 15 Issue 2, p127
Academic Journal
When a person is diagnosed with a life-threatening disease, existential questions are easily triggered. The aims of this study were to explore to what extent brain tumour patients and their next of kin were able to cope, understand and create meaning in their situation, to explore whether spirituality could be supportive and to analyse whether these concepts are related to Antonovsky's concept of sense of coherence. Using a purposive sampling technique, 20 patients and 16 of their next of kin took part in tape-recorded interviews. A content and context analysis was performed using a hermeneutic approach. We found that comprehensibility was to a large extent constructed by the patient's own thoughts and theories, despite an insecure situation. Manageability was achieved by active information-seeking strategies, by social support and by coping, including positive reinterpretation of the situation. Meaningfulness was central for quality of life and was created by close relations and faith, as well as by work. A crucial factor was whether the person had a 'fighting spirit' that motivated him or her to go on. As only three patients were believers, trust in God had generally been replaced by a belief and confidence in oneself, in science, in positive thinking and by closeness to nature. Sense of coherence as a concept can explain how exposed persons handle their situation. In its construction, sence of coherence integrates essential parts of the stress/coping model (comprehensibility, manageability) and of spirituality (meaning).


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