Spiritual and psychological issues in cancer patients: A qualitative study

Eva Mazzotti, Francesco Serranò, Paolo Marchetti

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter explores the role of spirituality in breast cancer survivors using a narrative research approach. In order to examine the specific aspects of spirituality activated in the experience of illness, and how such experience is converted into narrative storytelling, we used interviews to develop in-depth descriptions and to obtain rich, comprehensive, detailed accounts of women's experiences. Our analysis focused on how spiritual issues concern all aspects of breast cancer experience. Analysis of spiritual views as expressed through women's reflections, narratives, and representations of cultural values and religious beliefs allowed an understanding of women's relationships with themselves, with the others and with a transcendent dimension. Narratives suggest there are several dimensions of spirituality experienced among breast cancer survivors. Spirituality can be expressed religiously, but women with breast cancer assign meaning by redefining their experiences within a broader perspective. The women's experiences of their spirituality are unique to each of them, as each one lives with breast cancer in her individual way. The findings of this study enhance the knowledge of the psychosocial needs of breast cancer women and provide a basis for developing support interventions.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook on Spirituality: Belief Systems, Societal Impact and Roles in Coping
PublisherNova Science Publishers, Inc.
Number of pages21
ISBN (Print)9781619424753
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2012


  • Breast cancer
  • Identity
  • Interview
  • Narrative
  • Religiosity
  • Spirituality

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Arts and Humanities(all)


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