Initial Evidence of Religious Practice and Belief in Depressed African American Cancer Patients



Amy Y. Zhang*, 1, Faye Gary1, Hui Zhu2
1 Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing, Case Western Reserve University, 10900 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44106-4904, USA
2 School of Medicine, Case Western Reserve University, 10900 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44106-4904, USA


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© Zhang et al.; Licensee Bentham Open.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/3.0/), which permits unrestrictive use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Frances Payne Bolton School of Nursing, Case Western Reserve University, 10900 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44106-4904, USA; Tel: (216) 368-0968; Fax: (216) 368-3542; E-mail axz16@case.edu


Abstract

Objective: This study examined spiritual coping (beliefs and practices) of depressed African American cancer patients through a comparison with depressed White cancer patients and non-depressed African American cancer patients.

Methods: Using mixed methods, 74 breast (n=41) and prostate (n=33) cancer survivors including 34 depressed and 23 nondepressed African Americans and 17 depressed Whites were interviewed. The interviews were audiotaped and transcribed. Qualitative data analysis identified themes that were coded. The codes were entered into SPSS software. The Fisher’s exact test was performed to examine group differences in self-reported spiritual coping.

Results: Significantly more depressed African Americans questioned God when learning of a cancer diagnosis than the non-depressed African Americans (p=.03), but they did not differ from the depressed Whites in this regard (p=.70). Significantly more depressed African Americans reported having faith in God (p=.04), reading the bible (p=.02), and conversing with God (p=.01) than did the depressed Whites. They also reported praying alone (p=.01) more frequently than the depressed Whites who, on the other hand, reported praying with others (non-family members) together for one’s own health more frequently (p=.04).

Conclusions: Depression is associated with a deepening need for spirituality and it affects religious beliefs and practices more in African American than White cancer patients. Given its important role in the lives of African American cancer patients, spirituality may be utilized as a reasonable, culturally-based approach to better assess and treat depression in these patients.

Keywords: African American, cancer, depression, race, pray, religion, spirituality.