Religion as an Alleviating Factor in Iranian Cancer Patients: a Qualitative Study

  • Rahnama, Mozhgan (Department of Nursing, Zabol University of Medical Sciences) ;
  • Khoshknab, Masoud Fallahi (Department of Nursing, University of Social Welfare and Rehabilitation Sciences) ;
  • Maddah, Sadat Seyed Bagher (Department of Nursing, University of Social Welfare and Rehabilitation Sciences) ;
  • Ahmadi, Fazlollah (Department of Nursing, Faculty of Medical Sciences, Tarbiat Modares University) ;
  • Arbabisarjou, Azizollah (Zahedan University of Medical Sciences)
  • Published : 2016.01.11


After diagnosis of cancer, many patients show more inclination towards religion and religious activities. This qualitative study using semi-structured interviews explored the perspectives and experiences of 17 Iranian cancer patients and their families regarding the role of religion in their adaptation to cancer in one of the hospitals in Tehran and a charity institute. The content analysis identified two themes: "religious beliefs" (illness as God's will, being cured by God's will, belief in God's supportiveness, having faith in God as a relieving factor, and hope in divine healing) and "relationship with God during the illness." In general, relationship with God and religious beliefs had a positive effect on the patients adapting to their condition, without negative consequences such as stopping their treatment process and just waiting to be cured by God. Thus a strengthening of such beliefs, as a coping factor, could be recommended through religious counseling.


Religion;neoplasm;culture;qualitative research;Iran


  1. Abdoli S, Ashktorab T, Ahmadi F, et al (2011). Religion, faith and the empowerment process: Stories of Iranian people with diabetes. Int J Nurs Pract, 17, 289-98.
  2. Aquino VV, Zago MMF (2007). The meaning of religious beliefs for a group of cancer patients during rehabilitation. Rev Lat Am Enfermagem, 15, 42-7.
  3. Asadi Lari M, Goushegir S, Madjd Z, et al (2012). Spiritual care at the end of life in the Islamic context, a systematic review. Iran J Cancer Prev, 1, 63-7.
  4. Ebadi A, Ahmadi F, Ghanei M, et al (2009). Spirituality: A key factor in coping among Iranians chronically affected by mustard gas in the disaster of war. Nurs Health Sci, 11, 344-50.
  5. Farsi Z, Salsali, M (2007). Concept of care and nursing met paradigm in Islam. Teb & Tazkiye, 16, 8-21.
  6. Ganji T, Hosseini AF (2010). Spirituality and anxiety in nursing students of faculty of nursing and midwifery iran university of medical science -2006. Iran Journal of Nursing (IJN), 23, 44-51.
  7. Harandy TF, Ghofranipour F, Montazeri A, et al (2009). Muslim breast cancer survivor spirituality: coping strategy or health seeking behavior hindrance? Health care for women international, 31, 88-98.
  8. Hassankhani H, Taleghani F, Mills J, et al (2010). Being hopeful and continuing to move ahead: religious coping in Iranian chemical warfare poisoned veterans, a qualitative study. J Relig Health, 49, 311-21.
  9. Heiydari S, Salahshorian A, Rafie F, et al (2008). Correlation of perceived social support and size of social network with quality of life dimension in cancer patients. J Kashan Univ Med Sci, 12, 15-22.
  10. Lynn Gall T, Cornblat MW (2002). Breast cancer survivors give voice: a qualitative analysis of spiritual factors in long term adjustment. Psychooncology, 11, 524-35.
  11. McClain CS, Rosenfeld B, Breitbart W (2003). Effect of spiritual well-being on end-of-life despair in terminally-ill cancer patients. The Lancet, 361, 1603-7.
  12. Montaseri S, Sharif f (2008). Investigating the physical and psychological problems in children of parents with cancer. J Qazvin Univ Med Sci, 2, 26-31.
  13. Mueller PS, Plevak DJ, Rummans TA. Religious involvement, spirituality, and medicine: implications for clinical practice. Mayo clinic proceedings, 2001. Elsevier, 1225-35.
  14. Nasirzadeh R, Rassolzadeh Tabatabaie K (2009). Religious beliefs and coping strategies in students. Hormozgan Med J, 15, 36-45.
  15. Powe BD (1997). Cancer fatalism-Spiritual perspectives. J Relig Health, 36, 135-44.
  16. Quillin JM, McClish DK, Jones RM, et al (2006). Spiritual coping, family history, and perceived risk for breast cancercan we make sense of it? J Genet Couns, 15, 449-60.
  17. Rezaei M, Seyedfatemi N, Hosseini F (2009). Spiritual wellbeing in cancer patients who undergo chemotherapy. Hayat, 14, 33-9.
  18. Rohani A, Manawi pour D (2009). Relationship between religious practice with happiness and marriage satisfaction in Islamic Azad University of Mobarake. Knowledge & research in applied psychology, 0, 189-206.
  19. Rustoen T, Schjolberg TK, Wahl AK (2003). What areas of cancer care do Norwegian nurses experience as problems? J Adv Nurs, 41, 342-50.
  20. Seyedfatemi N, Rezaei M, Givari A, et al (2006). Prayer and spiritual well-being in cancer patients. Payesh Health Monit, 5, 295-303.
  21. Strubert Speziale H, Alen J, Carpenter D (2003). Qualitative research in nursing. Third Editionth edition. Philadelphia: Williams & Wilkings Co.
  22. Surbone A, Baider L (2010). The spiritual dimension of cancer care. Crit Rev Oncol Hemat, 73, 228-35.
  23. Talbert PY (2008). The relationship of fear and fatalism with breast cancer screening among a selected target population of African American middle class women. J Soc Behav Health Sci, 2, 96-110.
  24. Taleghani F, Parsa-yekta Z, Nikbakht Nasrabadi A (2006). Coping with breast cancer in newly diagnosed women: A qualitative study. Iran J Psychiatry Clin Psychol, 12, 282-8.