According to the American Cancer Society, African American men have the highest incidence, and mortality rates of prostate cancer among all ethnic groups in the United States (ACS, 2012). This study explored the experiences, coping strategies, and environmental stressors that impacted their lives during diagnosis and treatment.
This psychological phenomenological study entailed a description of the experiences of 24 interviews with the intent of learning how interviewees coped with the reality of surviving prostate cancer. Reducing the information to significant quotes and combining these statements into themes analyzed the data. The narratives were developed with men recruited from local barbershops, houses of worship, and prostate cancer support groups. Qualitative data were gathered using a semi-structured questionnaire to guide in-depth interviews. Additionally, a socio-demographic survey elicited information about age, educational background, marital and family status, employment, insurance coverage, and history of prostate cancer. The men also completed a social support index in order to gauge levels of support among significant others. The research shows how these men combatted the effects of social isolation, reframed a life threatening illness, and reconstructed personal identities, enabling them to live more purpose-driven and productive lives. In the study, participants reported stronger commitments to family life and to spiritual and religious beliefs.
The study explored how these men dealt with trauma, stress and what life changes were essential in order for them to not only make meaning of these events, but also adapt, and grow in the process.