Coping with breast cancer survivorship in Chinese women: The role of fatalism or fatalistic voluntarism

Huilin Cheng, Janet W.H. Sit, Sheila F. Twinn, Karis K.F. Cheng, Sally Thorne

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)


Background: The existing knowledge on fatalism in the field of cancer has arisen largely from the cancer prevention and screening literature. Little is known about the role of fatalism in cancer survivorship, particularly within Chinese population. Objective: This study aimed to explore the role of fatalism in coping with breast cancer survivorship in Chinese women. METHODS: In-depth interviews were conducted on 29 participants selected from those who attended a local cancer self-help organization in China. Interview transcripts were transcribed and analyzed using qualitative content analysis. RESULTS: Although they actively engaged in emotional regulation and self-care management to cope with survivorship, participants believed in fatalism and accepted their inability to change the final outcome of cancer. Such contradictory behavioral and cognitive aspects of coping reported by participants highlighted the role of a complex belief system involving Ming in positively influencing the interpretation of fatalism and the actual coping efforts taken. CONCLUSIONS: Findings suggest that fatalism related to coping in the Chinese context combined 2 elements: fatalistic belief in and acceptance of the way things are as well as the exertion of personal efforts over the situation. As such, it seems more effectively depicted in terms of the emerging concept "fatalistic voluntarism." IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE: When planning intervention for Chinese population, incorporating fatalistic voluntarism as a cognitive belief system in the process of adaptation to survivorship may be more culturally relevant for facilitating their coping behaviors.Copyright Unauthorized reproduction of this article is prohibited.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)236-244
Number of pages9
JournalCancer Nursing
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Cancer
  • Chinese
  • Coping and adaptation
  • Culture survivorship
  • Fatalism
  • Fatalistic voluntarism
  • Self-care

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Oncology(nursing)


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