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Religion Helps Patients Cope With Breast Cancer

Update Date: Sep 16, 2013 12:02 PM EDT

Religion may help women cope with breast cancer, a new study suggests.

Researchers found that faith in Allah significantly helped Saudi Arabian breast cancer patients deal with their condition.

The latest study involved patients from early, middle and late treatment phases of breast cancer.

Researchers found that many Saudi Arabian breast cancer patients had unmet communication needs. While patients in early phase of treatment appeared to get more detailed information, researchers stressed that it is imperative that patients get detailed information about their condition at every stage of treatment.

The study also found that doctors were perceived as more authoritative than female nurses.  Researchers said this is partly because doctors were Arabic and spoke the patients' language. The study found that most complaints were directed at non-Arabic nurses who sometimes lacked "tact".

The findings revealed that "women's faith fuelled hope that they could be cured," researchers wrote in the study.

"However, they also acknowledged that if Allah chose not to save them then it was his will that they would die from the condition," researchers added.

Researchers found that most women received family support from the time of their diagnosis and throughout treatment.  They also found patients reported increased understanding of their condition when nurses and doctors used simple language to convey information.

"Findings from this study are encouraging since socioeconomic factors were not highlighted as major issues in deterring women from seeking care. Cultural beliefs, however, appeared to have a strong influence on acceptance of their condition," researcher Howaida Saati said in a news release.

"Consideration should be given to interventions that use women's belief in God to help them cope with illness, such as encouraging patients to seek support from religious organizations or communities," she added.

The findings are published in the journal Cancer Nursing Practice

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