Monday, November 5, 2007

This presentation is part of : Cancer Care Issues
The Presence of Spirituality in the Healing Stories of Persons with Terminal Cancer
Inez Tuck, PhD, MBA, RN, Integrative Systems, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA, USA
Learning Objective #1: describe spirituality and healing as evident in the stories of persons diagnosed with cancer.
Learning Objective #2: discern the appropriateness of the storytelling approach as a therapeutic intervention with persons who are experiencing a terminal illness.

Some individuals diagnosed with cancer are informed that their condition is terminal and no additional treatment is recommended. These persons are often provided supportive care meant to alleviate pain, suffering and other incapacitating symptoms of the disease process. While medical and nursing interventions provide physical and emotional comfort, spiritual comfort is often neglected or relegated to the clergy or pastoral counseling. Previous studies indicate that spiritual care is an area in which patients with cancer want help (Moadel et al., 1999); is a key to ameliorating anxiety and for pain management (Hall, 1998; Georgesen & Dungan, 1996); and assists patients in finding a sense of peace and in gaining control over the fear of dying (Hall, 1998). Cancer patients find storytelling a helpful way to cope with cancer; and, it produces therapeutic benefits (Chelf et al. 2000). Putting events into story-like form helps people make sense of the event (Pennebaker & Seagal, 1999). Although the storytelling intervention has been studied, there are no studies that have examined the integration of presence, active listening and touch as a constructed approach for storytelling. The project’s goals were to determine if the creation of a sacred story using a storytelling technique was beneficial; explore the meaning as expressed in the narratives; and analyze the stories for the presence and nature of spirituality and healing.

Data were analyzed using the narrative technique described by Riessman (1993). The investigator read each story transcript using a line-by-line analysis. Themes were summarized in an exhaustive description of the experience.  In the second level analysis, the transcripts were reread to determine if priori categories of spirituality and healing were evident. The findings indicate that spirituality was included in the stories, however, the findings related to the type of healing were inconsistent.