Spirituality Measurement in African American Cancer Survivors: A Critical Literature Review

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Spirituality is a mechanism that supports coping with chronic illnesses such as cancer, and has been frequently used in the African American (AA) population. Measures of spirituality are needed, which are culturally sensitive, appropriate, and psychometrically sound.


A critical literature review was performed to identify instruments measuring spirituality as a response to illness.


Whittemore and Knafl's method was used to search pertinent databases for instrumentation assessing spirituality and its applicability in AA cancer survivors.


In all, 13 research articles detailing nine instruments were obtained and included for analysis. Of the nine instruments, only two (Perspectives of Support From God Scale and Connections to God Scale) were psychometrically tested in populations of AAs who had completed primary treatment for their cancer. Cultural validity was tested in only the Perspectives of Support From God Scale, showing a deficit in the assessment of cultural appropriateness of these instruments to the population.


Further research is needed to confirm validity of these measures. Cognitive pretesting and assessment of cross-cultural validity can be used to ensure proper understanding of terminology and avoid potential biases. Repeated testing of the instrument in the desired population is necessary to confirm that constructs and items are understood and cognitively processed as intended.

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