Complementary, Traditional and Spiritual Practices Used by Cancer Patients in Turkey When Coping with Pain: An Exploratory Case Study

J Relig Health. 2021 May 14. doi: 10.1007/s10943-021-01276-9. Online ahead of print.


This study was conducted to determine the complementary and traditional-spiritual practices applied by individuals diagnosed with cancer when experiencing significant pain. This descriptive and cross-sectional study was conducted with 110 patients who were receiving chemotherapy treatment in a university hospital outpatient treatment unit (Chemotherapy Unit) between 1st March and 30th June 2019. The study sample size was calculated using the 'unknown-population sample selection formula' (n = t2·p·q·/d2). Study data were collected using a patient information form comprising 13 questions about the participants' sociodemographic characteristics, diseases, and complementary practices. The data were analyzed using descriptive percentage tests and the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS Inc., Chicago, IL, USA) software. The study found that 45.5% of the cancer patients took a walk, 38.2% listened to music, 27.3% watched movies, 24.5% received massages, 20.0% read newspapers or books, 20.0% did sports, and 10.9% dreamed in painful situations. Spiritual practices used by the patients were determined as praying (46.4%), engaging in salat (the daily ritual prayers of Islam) (30.9%) and reading religious books (23.6%). The herbal practices applied by the patients include the use of garlic, mulberry molasses, pomegranate, green tea; furthermore, herbs such as honey, sage, lime, black cumin, ginger, centaury, thyme, nettle, flaxseeds, and rosehip were also used. Most of the patients learned complementary practices from television programs (62.7%); only 8.2% learned these practices from healthcare professionals. Nurses should investigate patients' use of complementary practices and provide them with the necessary evidence-based information to prevent unconscious use of these practices. Considering that determining patients' spiritual needs and practices is seen as the first step in the holistic care of patients, it is important to satisfy cancer patients by providing necessary healthcare services and help them improve their physical and mental health.

Keywords: Cancer; Complementary practices; Nursing; Pain; Spiritual practices.