A Descriptive and Phenomenological Exploration of the Spiritual Needs of Chinese Children Hospitalized with Cancer

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6 Citations (Scopus)


Spiritual well-being is the fourth dimension of health, as equally important as physical, mental, and social well-being. The shadow of death associated with cancer triggers children to explore their personal values, meanings, and life goals throughout the illness trajectory, enabling them to identify their unique spiritual needs. Chinese children are generally non-religious, unlike Western children, which affects their spiritual needs. To address the literature gaps, we applied a qualitative, descriptive, phenomenological approach for exploring the spiritual needs of Chinese children hospitalized with cancer. Purposive sampling was conducted in two public hospitals with special wards for pediatric oncology patients in Hunan Province, China. Consequently, 22 children, hospitalized with cancer, were recruited and individually interviewed using a semi-structured interview format. We conducted a thematic analysis of the interview transcripts. Four important themes were identified: the need for self-exploration, inner needs, need for a connection with others, and need for a connection with gods, supernatural powers, and fictional characters. We found that culture significantly influenced the spiritual needs of Chinese children with cancer. Hope was a key factor motivating the children to continue cancer treatment. To address their unique spiritual needs, culturally specific interventions should be developed and incorporated into their care to enhance their spiritual well-being.

Original languageEnglish
Article number13217
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number20
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2022


  • Chinese
  • pediatric oncology
  • psychological health
  • spiritual well-being
  • symptoms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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