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Coping with Child's Cancer

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Coping with a child who has a disease, such as cancer, can be a complex, psychological, and behavioral process that affects not only the patient, but the family as well. Cancer can cause emotional distress such as anxiety, stress, and difficulty coping. This quantitative article examines the coping strategies, religious attitudes, and optimism of mothers who have children with cancer.

Correlation to Nursing

Not only are diseases relevant to nursing, but also have an effect on the patient and their family. As nurses, we are not only treating the disease, but caring for the patient and providing the utmost amount of quality care. Cancer is a different kind of disease in itself, and can endure hopelessness in patients and their families in lieu of scientists still researching a cure. For a mother, it is especially important that she utilizes adequate coping and optimism for her and her family. Children tend to lean on their mothers in times of need, and mothers have a special bond after giving birth. The emotions of the mother and family members can greatly affect the patient’s mindset, therefore affecting the patient’s vulnerable state. Most chronic diseases have similar effects on family members including psychological and emotional functioning, disruption of leisure activities, effect on interpersonal relationships, and financial resources (Golics et al., 2015). By studying the results of the research conducted, nurses may be able to better understand the effect of religion on the care of mothers with children with complex diseases such as cancer and improve the spiritual care in nursing (Bozkurt et al., 2019).

Research Method

This study collects demographic data on the mothers and children participating and examines if there are any correlations between this data and the subjects’ feelings on religion, levels of optimism, and coping mechanisms as well as the relationship between these three factors (Bozkurt et al., 2019). In an attempt to answer these two research questions and confirm the hypothesis regarding coping mechanisms, the researchers conducted their methodologies with several independent and dependent variables. The independent variables of the study are mothers who are at least 18 and have children diagnosed with cancer at least 1 month prior to the study who are undergoing treatment. The dependent variables are the coping mechanisms, religious attitudes, and optimism of the mothers (Bozkurt et al., 2019). The setting of this study was the pediatric hematology oncology clinic of a university hospital in Istanbul and the population was all mothers who had children with cancer that were admitted to the clinic and met the sample selection criteria in 1 year (Bozkurt et al., 2019).

Data Collection

With this population and setting, this correlational and cross-sectional study used the methodology of a demographic questionnaire, coping strategy questionnaire, religious attitude scale, and life orientation test-revised. The advantages of using a correlational and cross-sectional study are that, respectively, they allow researchers to study variables that would otherwise be unethical to control and are not time-consuming or expensive to conduct. Conversely, some disadvantages are that a correlational study has little control over the extraneous variables and a cross-sectional study runs the risk of non-response (LoBiondo & Haber, 2018).

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Still being able to work with these advantages and disadvantages, the data was collected by inviting this group of mothers who met the criteria needed and administering questionnaires and analyzing the data to see the correlation it had with coping, religion, and optimism.

Instruments Used

The Demographic Questionnaire was used to assess the characteristics of the participants, including education, occupation, sex, age, medical procedures, and diagnosis time of the disease” (Bozkurt et al., 2019). This questionnaire is both reliable and valid in that it consists of standard questions asking about age, sex, occupation, education, medical procedures, and time of diagnosis. These factors are validified in regards to socioeconomic status due to the variation of topics asked. The Coping Strategy Questionnaire (CSQ) used a scale of 33 items to measure efficient coping with a higher score signifying greater efficiency. This questionnaire is not as reliable or valid as the first due to the fact that some answers may have been skewed from the mothers potentially providing answers, they believed were more acceptable rather than being honest with how they felt. The Religious Attitude Scale (RAS) determines the extent of religion in the lives of the subjects with a higher numerical score indicating increased levels of religious attitude. The Life Orientation Test-Revised (LOT-R) used five items to determine a numerical value that reflected optimistic attitude (Bozkurt et al., 2019).

Following review of the different forms of data collection used, we are better able to understand the findings of the study. After examining the correlations between working status, children’s sex, number of children, and the scores of the CSQ, RAS, and LOT-R, there was no statistical significance found. There was also no statistical significance in the correlations between mothers’ education level and the scores of the CSQ and LOT-R. It was observed that mothers with low educational levels had statistically significantly higher scores of religious attitudes. There was a positive correlation between the children’s age and duration since disease diagnosis the scores of RAS, yet oppositely a negative correlation between that and the scores of LOT-R. Additionally, there were correlations examined between the scores of the mothers from CSQ, RAS, and LOT-R and the scores from the subscales of these scales. There was found to be positive correlations between the total score of CSQ and emotional scores of RAS and also between the CSQ Social Support Seeking subscale and total scores of RAS and LOT-R (Bozkurt et al., 2019).


While these study findings highlight the potential positive effects of religiosity on well-being, the results still indicated that the correlational relationship between mothers’ religious beliefs, coping mechanisms, and optimistic attitudes was not significant (Bozkurt et al., 2019). This may be due to the limitations and weakness of the study which included its cross-sectional design and lack of a control group. The control group could have helped to rule out alternatives in this study. The insufficient sample size is also one of the main reasons why there were no relationships determined between religious tendencies, coping, and optimism. It must also be taken into consideration that participant responses may not be representative of the target population being studied and that these results cannot be generalized to all mothers of children with cancer (Bozkurt et al., 2019). The level of evidence is not strong enough to have a conclusive study. Due to the weaknesses observed, it is evident that results are not able to determine the effect of religion on the coping of mothers of children with cancer in different cultures and religions. Therefore, further studies need to be done to determine this.

Recommendations for Future Research and Education

After reading and evaluating this research, it is recommended that further research and studies should investigate the effect of religion on coping mothers who have children with cancer. Different cultures and religions should be studied, as these results are generalized. Certain religions or cultures may restrict coping techniques. Testing in different socioeconomic areas could also alter results, and give a new perspective. Mothers in low or poor socioeconomic areas may not have as many resources in regards to coping and group therapy. The authors’ recommendation is to examine the effect of religious attitudes on coping through social experiments and to do so in different socioeconomic levels. The authors believe this continued research will help in understanding the influence of religion in different cultures and improving spiritual care.


  1. Bozkurt, G., Inal, S., Yantiri, L., & Alparslan, Ö. (2019). Relationship Between Coping Strategies, Religious Attitude, and Optimism of Mothers of Children With Cancer. Journal of Transcultural Nursing. 30(4), 365-370. doi: 10.1177/1043659618818714.
  2. Golics, C. J., Basra, M. K., Finlay, A. Y., & Salek, S. (2015). The Impact of Disease on Family Members: A Critical Aspect of Medical Care. Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, 106(10), 399–407.
  3. LoBiondo, G., & Haber, J. (2018). Nonexperimental Designs. In: Nursing Research Methods and Critical Appraisal for Evidence-Based Practice (9th ed., pp. 184-185). St. Louis, MO: Elsevier.
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Coping with Child’s Cancer. (2022, December 15). Edubirdie. Retrieved November 29, 2023, from
“Coping with Child’s Cancer.” Edubirdie, 15 Dec. 2022,
Coping with Child’s Cancer. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 29 Nov. 2023].
Coping with Child’s Cancer [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Dec 15 [cited 2023 Nov 29]. Available from:
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