African American Women Coping With Breast Cancer: A Qualitative Analysis

Phyllis D. Henderson

Shirley V. Gore

Bertha Lane Davis

Esther H. Condon

ONF 2003, 30(4), 641-647. DOI: 10.1188/03.ONF.641-647

Purpose/Objectives: To determine how African American women cope with breast cancer.

Design: Descriptive and exploratory study.

Sample/Setting: 66 African American women diagnosed with breast cancer were interviewed in the southeastern United States.

Methods: Data were collected through tape-recorded interviews using a semistructured interview guide. Data were analyzed by content analysis and frequency distributions.

Main Research Variables: Coping strategies used by women to adapt to a diagnosis of breast cancer.

Findings: Coping strategies described by African American women included relying on prayer, avoiding negative people, developing a positive attitude, having a will to live, and receiving support from family, friends, and support groups.

Conclusion: Spirituality played a major role in these African American women coping with breast cancer. Supportive networks also served as a vital asset throughout the breast cancer experience. Participants discussed the need for culturally sensitive breast cancer support groups.

Implications for Nursing: Nurses must recognize coping strategies that African American women with breast cancer use. Healthcare professionals need to develop culturally sensitive breast cancer support groups. Throughout the breast cancer experience, nurses must assess communication patterns among African American families. Nurses should serve as healthcare advocates for African American women with breast cancer.

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