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96 Understanding the meaning attributed by jordanian parents of children with cancer to their illness: a phenomenological study
  1. Maha Atout,
  2. Abd Al-Hadi Hasan,
  3. Rabia Allari,
  4. Amani Alkharabsheh,
  5. Mahmoud Thalgi and
  6. Noureen Shivji
  1. Philadelphia University


Background Jordanian culture is a variant of Arab-Islamic culture that comprises two intertwined strands: the interpretation of Islamic religion and vernacular Arab culture. Few studies have been conducted in the Middle East to explain the way culture shapes and reflects parents’ lived experiences and interactions with their children, particularly concerning the meaning and philosophy of disease.

Methods The aim of this study was to explore the lived experiences of Jordanian parents of children with cancer. The study investigated the cultural meaning of illness and how it affected parents’ lived experiences of their children’s illness. The study adopted a hermeneutic phenomenological approach informed by the philosophy of Martin Heidegger and used semi-structured interviews. The study was conducted in one paediatric oncology unit in one Jordanian hospital.

Results Twenty-five interviews were collected from 24 mothers and one father. During the interviews, the parents expressed that their spiritual beliefs helped them accept their child’s disease. Showing patience towards the suffering of their children was perceived as an important value the parents tried to stick to despite the deep suffering the children were experiencing. All the parents demonstrated a thankful approach as they perceived that everything that happens to their child is according to destiny. The beliefs the parents held about their child’s illness were perceived to positively affect the way they interacted with them. This was especially so in sensitive situations, such as their reactions to initial diagnoses and receiving bad news.

Conclusion The findings of this study will inform the education of health professionals and increase their understanding of the beliefs and practices demonstrated by the study’s participants and their integration into supportive patient plans.

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