Date of Award

Summer 8-11-2023

Degree Type


Degree Name

PhD Health Sciences


Health and Medical Sciences


Genevieve Zipp, PT, EdD, FNAP

Committee Member

Deborah DeLuca, MS, JD

Committee Member

Rev. Msgr. Gerard McCarren, STD


Faith, Cancer


Background: There were an estimated 1.9 million new cases of cancer diagnosed the United States and over 600,000 deaths from cancer in 2022. Cancer is also known as the 2nd most common cause of death behind heart disease in the US. In 2019, there were an estimated 16.9 million cancer survivors in the US. Furthermore, the number of cancer survivors is expected to increase to 22.2 million by 2030. Unfortunately, the persons' spiritual needs are not being addressed or considered by healthcare practitioners as part of the plan of care, especially Catholics. In order to truly provide person-centered care, healthcare professionals must realize from the onset of the medical intervention that there are more issues to consider than just ordering labs and scans, conducting surgeries, chemotherapy, and radiation.

Purpose: The purpose of this study is to describe how Catholic persons living with the diagnosis of cancer integrate their faith into their healthcare. Methods: Semi-structures interviews were utilized to collect data, using a qualitative phenomenological approach. The study population was a criterion, purposive sample of Catholic persons with a diagnosis of cancer. Voluntary participants were asked 13 open- ended questions using an Interview Guide Questionnaire that developed on the literature review and the Person-Centered Care conceptional framework to describe the Catholic person’s perspective regarding how faith is integrated into the care of their disease. A Delphi process was for face and content validity of the interview questions. Interviews were transcribed verbatim. Transcripts were coded using in-vivo and descriptive coding then developed into categories for thematic analysis. Interviews were conducted until saturation was achieved and no new codes emerged. Intercoder consensus was obtained.

Results: 11 interviews took place with Catholic persons living with the diagnosis of cancer From what we know from my current study as compared to other similar studies about faith and cancer: cancer had a positive impact on faith, faith needs may not be met by Healthcare providers. lack of Spiritual Chaplaincy and implementation of Person- Centered Care Model is warranted.

Conclusions: Catholic persons living with the diagnosis of cancer integrated faith into their healthcare as they believed strongly in God and embraced spiritual coping and personal prayer to guide their journey. This study supports the Apostolic Letter written by Pope John Paul II in February 1984 about Salvifici Doloris, which speaks of suffering in general in the light of the cross and salvific or otherwise known as redemptive suffering by Catholics. Thus, Catholic cancer persons grew deeper in their faith and understood their reason to life, finding their purpose in life.

Key Words: Faith, Cancer