Howaida Saati discusses a study to explore how cultural beliefs affect patients’ responses to diagnosis and therapy, and how nurses can help improve outcomes
Aim The aim of this study was to explore the cultural framework of Saudi Arabian women’s experiences of breast cancer diagnosis and treatment.
Method Sixty patients from early, middle and late treatment phases and eight oncology nurses were recruited. All patients were interviewed using an in-depth interview guide, while the nurses participated in two focus group discussions. Six case studies from the patient treatment groups were selected to further support and verify the themes.
Findings Five themes emerged: communication, acceptance, knowledge and understanding, limitations imposed by culture and positive dimensions of culture.
Conclusion The women’s faith in Allah helped them cope with their condition and was a significant element in their culture. Nurses can help patients from different cultural backgrounds come to terms with their diagnosis and treatment by showing empathy, practising positive communication and empowering patients to participate in healthcare decisions. This could be achieved by proper patient education and helping patients to use their faith to accept the diagnosis and undergo treatment. Nurses could also use patients’ family support systems to improve adherence to the treatment plan.
Cancer Nursing Practice.
This article has been subject to double blind peer review
Conflict of interest
This study was funded by the Ministry of Higher Education, Saudi Arabia, as part of the author’s PhD scholarship at Northumbria University
Received: 01 October 2012
Accepted: 14 May 2013