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Objectives: There is a rising burden of breast cancer (BC) in the Eastern Mediterranean Region (EMR), and its sociopsychological impact is a quickly growing health concern in this region. Because understanding cancer patients’ perceptions of life is integral to their treatment, they are also a concern for healthcare providers. This qualitative study, therefore, explored changes in Omani women’s perceptions of life after a BC diagnosis. Methods: Semi-structured interviews were conducted individually with 21 Omani women undergoing treatment for BC at the Oncology Ward of Muscat’s Royal Hospital from March to May 2017. The collected data were subjected to qualitative content analysis. Results: After their cancer diagnosis, the women appeared to pass through three main stages in their coping processes. First, they passed through a stage of severe psychosocial distress and diminishment in personal identity. Next, they evolved strategies for coping based on cultural, religious and family resources. Finally, the women experienced acceptance and submission to the reality of the cancer as God’s will with changes in attitudes and perceptions of the meaning of life. Conclusion: A BC diagnosis impacts Omani women severely, affecting their lives dramatically. They adopt coping strategies based on cultural, religious and spiritual beliefs. Healthcare providers need to acknowledge and facilitate women’s spiritual and cultural coping strategies as an integral part of their treatment which holds potential to improve their prognosis. Such strategies should be individualised to suit each woman’s experiences, perceptions and needs.
Keywords: Breast Neoplasm; Culture; Perceptions; Life; Women; Oman.
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