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Spiritual well-being and demands of illness in people with colorectal cancer

Fernsler, Jayne I. D.S.N., R.N., A.O.C.N.; Klemm, Paula D.N.Sc., R.N., O.C.N.; Miller, Mary Ann Ph.D., R.N.


The purpose of this descriptive correlational study was to identify the relationship between subjects' spiritual well-being and the demands of illness (DOI) imposed by colorectal cancer. Potential subjects were notified about the study through computer networks. Those who met the criteria and wished to participate in the study used e-mail to request a study packet, which included an explanation of the study, the Demands of Illness Inventory (DOII), the Spiritual Well-Being Scale (SWBS), a demographic form, and a stamped return-reply envelope. Of the 170 packets requested, 121 (71%) were returned complete. More than half of the respondents were men and were of a Christian faith. Most respondents reported physical symptoms, but were able to carry on normal activity. Demands of illness were greater among men, the youngest subjects, those who received treatment in the previous 2 months, and those who reported decreased activity, metastatic disease, and/or terminal status. Women reported significantly greater spiritual well-being than men. Subjects who reported higher levels of spiritual well-being indicated significantly lower DOI related to physical symptoms, monitoring symptoms, and treatment issues. Findings indicate that a greater degree of spiritual well-being may help to mitigate the DOI imposed by colorectal cancer.

Jayne I. Fernsler is Professor; Paula Klemm is Associate Professor; and Mary Ann Miller is Associate Professor in the Department of Nursing, University of Delaware, Newark, Delaware.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to Jayne I. Fernsler, Department of Nursing, College of Nursing, McDowell Hall, University of Delaware, Newark, Delaware 19716-3710.

Accepted for publication April 27, 1998.

© 1999 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.