Posttraumatic spiritual growth: A phenomenological study of cancer survivors

Ryan Myles Denney

Abstract

A small but growing body of research has sought to investigate the specific role of religion and spirituality in posttraumatic growth. Recently investigations have begun to focus on spiritual growth following trauma, specifically that of cancer patients and survivors. The purpose of this qualitative study was to investigate how having cancer effects the spiritual growth of cancer survivors across a multidimensional conceptualization of spirituality (Hill 2005; Tsang & McCullough, 2003). The researcher investigated the lived experience of thirteen cancer survivors with posttraumatic spiritual growth using a phenomenological method of data analysis. Participants reported experiencing spiritual growth across the following domains of spirituality: general religiousness or spirituality, religious or spiritual development, religious or spiritual social participation, religious or spiritual private practices, religious or spiritual support, religious or spiritual coping, religion or spirituality as motivating forces, religious or spiritual experiences, and religious or spiritual commitment. Two novel domains of growth emerged from participants' narratives: evangelism and enhanced spirituality of family/friends. Growth was not endorsed by participants in the following domains of spirituality: religious or spiritual history, religious or spiritual beliefs and values, and religious or spiritual techniques for regulating and reconciling relationships.