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Spirituality in Arab Muslim Hematopoietic Stem Cell Transplantation Survivors

A Qualitative Approach

Alaloul, Fawwaz PhD, MPH, RN; Schreiber, Judith A. PhD, RN; Al Nusairat, Taghreed S. BSN, RN; Andrykowski, Michael A. PhD

doi: 10.1097/NCC.0000000000000312

Background: A cancer diagnosis and treatment can be a stressful, life-altering experience that can pose a threat to life and raise existential challenges. Spirituality may influence the process of coping with the stress of the cancer experience. Studies of the role of spirituality for Muslim cancer patients and survivors are limited.

Objective: The aim of this study was to understand the role of spirituality in the cancer experience among Arab Muslim hematopoietic stem cell transplant (HSCT) survivors.

Methods: In this qualitative, descriptive study, 63 HSCT survivors (mean, 20.2 months) responded to 2 open-ended, self-report questions on the role of spirituality in their HSCT experience. Thematic analysis was used to identify themes related to spirituality.

Results: Three dimensions that helped patients cope with their experiences were identified: sickness viewed in light of belief in God, use of religious/spiritual resources, and support from family and community. Two general themes described changes in their faith as a result of having the HSCT procedure: strengthening of faith in God and greater reliance on religious/spiritual activities.

Conclusion: Spirituality was important to the Arab Muslim survivors in coping with cancer and HSCT treatment. Muslim cancer survivors are often deeply connected to their religion.

Implications for Practice: Healthcare providers in the United States and other Western countries need to be aware of the unique religious and spiritual needs of Muslim cancer survivors in order to provide them with culturally sensitive care. More research on the spiritual needs of Muslim cancer patients and survivors residing in Western countries is needed.

Author Affiliations: School of Nursing, University of Louisville, Kentucky (Drs Alaloul and Schreiber); King Hussein Cancer Foundation, Amman, Jordan (Mrs Al Nusairat); College of Medicine, University of Kentucky, Lexington (Dr Andrykowski).

Financial support for this research was provided by the Oncology Nursing Society.

The authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose.

Correspondence: Fawwaz Alaloul, PhD, MPH, RN, School of Nursing, University of Louisville, 555 S Floyd St, K-Wing, Louisville, KY 40202 (

Accepted for publication August 18, 2015.

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