Date of Award
Doctor of Psychology (PsyD)
Graduate Department of Clinical Psychology
Kathleen Gathercoal, Ph.D.
Mary Peterson, Ph.D.
Beth LaForce, Ph.D.
Children coping with chronic illnesses employ a variety of strategies to help them defend against their illness-related stressors. In a study of children diagnosed with asthma, Ezop (2002), using the Children’s Religious Coping Scale (CRC), found that the use of positive religious coping techniques led to a better adaptation to life and a more positive perspective on illnesses. The Ezop study also found that children and adolescents used positive religious coping moderately and made only limited use of negative religious coping. The present study analyzed the positive and negative coping skills of adolescents diagnosed with cancer. Specifically, in a prior study adolescents in a pediatric oncology clinic, who were newly diagnosed with cancer, were interviewed about how they understood their situations, including the coping strategies they utilized, their social support, and their views of God, among other topics. The archival transcripts from these structured interviews were recoded for presence of the 20 positive and 9 negative coping strategies on the CRC Scale (Ezop 2002). The findings of this study indicate that adolescent cancer patients used positive religious coping strategies more frequently than negative religious coping strategies. Both the frequency of occurrence and the number of words devoted to describing a coping strategy showed the same pattern of results. The most frequently occurring and extensively described positive strategy was “I think God will help me get through this,” followed by “I go to church/temple/synagogue” and “I think God gave me [my illness] for a reason.” The most frequently used and extensively described negative coping strategies were “I think God cannot help me” and “I just let God take care of me and I do nothing” These results provide evidence that Ezop’s religious coping strategies are ecologically valid and arise spontaneously in the same patterns as found on the CRC scale.
Smith, Jory L., "Spiritual Coping in Children Diagnosed with Cancer" (2009). Doctor of Psychology (PsyD). 473.