African American couples merging strengths to successfully cope with breast cancer

Phyllis D Morgan, Joshua Fogel, Linda Rose, Kim Barnett, Victoria Mock, Bertha Lane Davis, Melvin Gaskins, Carolyn Brown-Davis
Oncology Nursing Forum 2005, 32 (5): 979-87

PURPOSE/OBJECTIVES: To explore the process of coping with breast cancer among African American women and their spouses.

DESIGN: Exploratory, qualitative study using grounded theory methods.

SETTING: Large metropolitan area in the mid-Atlantic United States.

SAMPLE: 12 African American couples (N = 24).

METHODS: African American women and their spouses were asked to complete a background data sheet and participate in a face-to-face semistructured interview. Qualitative data were audiotaped and transcribed verbatim. Themes were identified using the constant comparative method. Quantitative data were analyzed with descriptive statistics.

MAIN RESEARCH VARIABLES: The process of coping with breast cancer among African American couples.

FINDINGS: The basic social concern was living through and beyond a breast cancer diagnosis. The core variable was merging strengths to cope with and survive a breast cancer diagnosis. Six main categories emerged to describe how African American couples actively worked together to cope with a breast cancer diagnosis: walking together, praying together, seeking together, trusting together, adjusting together, and being together.

CONCLUSIONS: African American couples described the importance of combining their strengths and working together as a couple to cope with a breast cancer diagnosis.

IMPLICATIONS FOR NURSING: Nurses must understand the importance of developing culturally sensitive and culturally relevant interventions to assist African American couples with effectively coping with a breast cancer diagnosis. When providing care to African American couples, nurses should incorporate the six categories of walking, praying, seeking, trusting, adjusting, and being together to help couples cope with the various phases of the breast cancer experience.

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