Spiritual Issues of Family Members in a Pancreatic Cancer Chat Room

Marie T. Nolan

Mary B. Hodgin

Sharon J. Olsen

JoAnn Coleman

Pat K. Sauter

Deborah Baker

Cathy Stanfield

Amy Emerling

Ralph H. Hruban

ONF 2007, 33(2), 239-244. DOI: 10.1188/06.ONF.239-244

Purpose/Objectives: To describe spiritual issues addressed by users of a pancreatic cancer informational Web site.

Design: Qualitative, descriptive.

Setting: The patient and family chat room of Johns Hopkins Hospital's pancreatic cancer Web site.

Sample: 600 postings on the pancreatic cancer Web site.

Methods: Identification of categories and themes in Web postings using the constant comparison method of content analysis.

Main Research Variables: Spirituality, relationship of the person posting a message (poster) to the person with cancer.

Findings: Relationship of the poster to the person with pancreatic cancer was explicit in 68% (n = 410) of the 600 postings, and 83% of those 410 postings indicated that the poster was a family member. Issues of spirituality appeared in 19% (n = 114) of the 600 postings and addressed four themes: spiritual convergence, reframing suffering, hope, and acceptance of the power of God and eternal life. Six percent of postings were by family members reporting on the death of their loved ones, suggesting that the site also served a bereavement function.

Conclusions: Family members of patients with pancreatic cancer sought and received spiritual comfort in a variety of forms in an Internet-based cancer chat room.

Implications for Nursing: Nurse developers of cancer information Web sites should periodically assess how the sites are being used and apply the information to the refinement of the sites to better meet user needs. Further study is needed to develop and evaluate cancer Web sites as an evolving medium for providing spiritual support to family members of patients with life-threatening forms of cancer.

Jump to a section

    References

    Albaugh, J.A. (2003). Spirituality and life-threatening illness: A phenomenologic study. Oncology Nursing Forum, 30, 593-598.
    American Cancer Society. (2005). Cancer facts and figures 2005. Atlanta, GA: Author.
    Coleman, J., Olsen, S., Sauter, P., Baker, D., Hodgin, M., Stanfield, C., et al. (2005). The effect of a frequently asked questions module on a pancreatic Web site patient/family chat room. Cancer Nursing, 28, 460-468.
    Dann, N.J., & Mertens, W.C. (2004). Taking a "leap of faith": Acceptance and value of a cancer program-sponsored spiritual event. Cancer Nursing, 27, 134-141.
    Eliott, J., & Olver, I. (2002). The discursive properties of "hope": A qualitative analysis of cancer patients' speech. Qualitative Health Research, 12, 173-193.
    Fernsler, J.I., Klemm, P., & Miller, M.A. (1999). Spiritual well-being and demands of illness in people with colorectal cancer. Cancer Nursing, 22, 134-140.
    Flannelly, L.T., Flannelly, K.J., & Weaver, A.J. (2002). Religious and spiritual variables in three major oncology nursing journals: 1990-1999. Oncology Nursing Forum, 29, 679-685.
    Harrington, V., Lackey, N.R., & Gates, M.F. (1996). Needs of caregivers of clinic and hospice cancer patients. Cancer Nursing, 19, 118-125.
    Klemm, P., & Hardie, T. (2002). Depression in Internet and face-to-face cancer support groups: A pilot study [Online exclusive]. Oncology Nursing Forum, 29, E45-E51. Retrieved January 23, 2006, from http://www.ons.org/publications/journals/ONF/Volume29/Issue4/290445.asp
    Klemm, P., Reppert, K., & Visich, L. (1998). A nontraditional cancer support group. The Internet. Computers in Nursing, 16, 31-36.
    Laubmeier, K.K., Zakowski, S.G., & Bair, J.P. (2004). The role of spirituality in the psychological adjustment to cancer: A test of the transactional model of stress and coping. International Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 11, 48-55.
    Li, D., Xie, K., Wolff, R., & Abbruzzese, J.L. (2004). Pancreatic cancer. Lancet, 27, 1049-1057.
    McClain, C.S., Rosenfeld, B., & Breitbart, W. (2003). Effect of spiritual well-being on end-of-life despair in terminally ill cancer patients. Lancet, 361, 1603-1607.
    Meraviglia, M.G. (2002). Prayer in people with cancer. Cancer Nursing, 25, 326-331.
    Meraviglia, M.G. (2004). The effects of spirituality on well-being of people with lung cancer. Oncology Nursing Forum, 31, 89-94.
    Morse, J.H., & Field, P.A. (1995). Qualitative research methods for health professionals. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.
    Puchalski, C.M. (2002). Spirituality and end-of-life care: A time for listening and caring. Journal of Palliative Medicine, 5, 289-294.
    Rabins, P.V., Fitting, M.D., Eastham, J., & Zabora, J. (1990). Emotional adaptation over time in care-givers for chronically ill elderly people. Age and Aging, 19, 185-190.
    Sandelowski, M. (2000). Whatever happened to qualitative description? Research in Nursing and Health, 23, 334-340.
    Schultz, P.N., Stava, C., Beck, M.L., & Vassilopoulou-Sellin, R. (2003). Internet message board use by patients with cancer and their families. Clinical Journal of Oncology Nursing, 7, 663-667.
    Stewart, A.L., Teno, J., Patrick, D.L., & Lynn, J. (1999). The concept of quality of life of dying persons in the context of health care. Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, 17, 93-108.
    Sulmasy, D.P. (2002). A biopsychosocial-spiritual model for the care of patients at the end of life. Gerontologist, 42(Spec. No. 3), 24-33.
    Taylor, E.J. (2003). Spiritual needs of patients with cancer and family caregivers. Cancer Nursing, 26, 260-266.
    U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2001). Title 45: Public welfare. Part 46: Protection of human subjects. Retrieved February 20, 2005, from http://www.hhs.gov/ohrp/humansubjects/guidance/45cfr46.htm
    Worthington, E.L., Jr., Kurusu, T.A., McCullough, M.E., & Sandage, S.J. (1996). Empirical research on religion and psychotherapeutic processes and outcomes: A 10-year review and research prospectus. Psychological Bulletin, 119, 448-487.
    Wyatt, G.K., Friedman, L., Given, C.W., & Given, B.A. (1999). A profile of bereaved caregivers following the provision of terminal care. Journal of Palliative Care, 15, 13-25.