The Use of Humor and Its Influences on Spirituality and Coping in Breast Cancer Survivors

Paige Johnson

ONF 2002, 29(4), 691-695. DOI: 10.1188/02.ONF.691-695

Purpose/Objectives: To describe patients' perspectives concerning the use of humor in their care and recovery.

Design: Descriptive.

Setting: Community-based.

Sample: Nine women with a diagnosis of breast cancer.

Methods: Open-ended interviews were conducted with participants to identify their use of humor, its influence on spirituality, and their perceptions of how nurses use humor in caring for them during their treatment for breast cancer.

Main Research Variable: The use of humor as a coping skill.

Findings: The narrative data revealed three major categories, each with five to six themes illuminating humor as a coping factor, the relationship between humor and nursing, and the relationship between humor and spirituality.

Conclusions: Participants identified humor as an important coping factor. They also believed it played a role in their spirituality and their perception of the meaning and purpose of life. Nurses' use of humor is important to foster deeper, more trusting relationships with patients.

Implications for Nursing: Humor must be recognized as an element of spiritual coping in patients with breast cancer. A need exists for further education for nurses concerning the importance of humor in the care of patients to promote recovery and improve the nurse-patient relationship. Research is needed to explore the use of cultural influences on humor, family perspectives of humor, and the influences of the overall environment.

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