Religious faith in coping with terminal cancer: what is the nursing experience?



This qualitative study describes nurses’ reports on the role played by religious faith in the care of patients with terminal cancer. Using Gadamer's philosophical hermeneutics and C. Roy's adaptation model as a base, in-depth interviews were carried out with 23 nurses who had cared for patients with terminal cancer for at least 6 months. Three main themes emerged when a Gadamerian-based hermeneutic research method was applied: faith facilitates the coping process in cases of terminal cancer, faith hinders the coping process in cases of terminal cancer and terminal illness impacts faith. The lack of univocal results indicates that the role of faith in coping with death is essentially practical, individualised and changeable. The nurse–patient relationship can help to determine the spiritual needs of cancer patients at the end of life. This source of knowledge held by the nurse, together with the rest of the multidisciplinary team, can help to improve end-of-life care.