Date of Award

Spring 2014

Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

Haglund, Kristin

Second Advisor

Belknap, Ruth Ann

Third Advisor

Schaefer, Jame


Sickle cell disease (SCD) is a serious debilitating chronic illness and global health problem. Spirituality and religiosity have been shown to have positive correlations with their health outcomes. Research addressing the spiritual and religious needs of adolescents living with SCD is limited.

The aim of this descriptive qualitative study was to examine how adolescents (Mage = 16.2 years) with SCD describe and experience spirituality and religiosity. Nine adolescents completed two semi-structured interviews. Sickle Cell Disease Interview Guides were developed using the Spiritual Development Framework developed by Benson & Roehlkepartain (2008) as a guide. The framework provided a foundation for conceptualizing the spiritual element of human development. Sickle Cell Disease Interview Guides were used to elicit information on adolescents' beliefs, spirituality, and religiosity. Participant Demographic Forms were completed by each adolescent and used to collect information regarding their demographics, SCD histories, and religiosities. Parent Demographic Forms were completed by each parent and used to collect information regarding parents' demographics and religiosities.

Data were analyzed using a template analysis style and a concurrent analysis process of data reduction, data display, and conclusion drawing/verification. The Spiritual Development Framework was used as a guide in constructing components of the analysis template. Adolescents verbalized their thoughts regarding their spirituality and religiosity. The adolescents believed that religiosity is personal, meaningful, and should be respected. Four main themes emerged to include: spirituality and religiosity as coping mechanisms, shaping of identity, the influence of beliefs on health and illness, and the expectations for health care providers. The theme spirituality and religiosity as coping mechanisms included six threads: interconnecting with God, interconnecting with others, interconnecting with creative arts, scriptural metanarratives, transcendent experiences, and acceptance and finding meaning. The theme expectations for health providers included two threads to include: religiosity is private/personal/communal and sharing spiritual and religious beliefs is risky.

The current study examined spirituality and religiosity as described and experienced by adolescents with SCD. The current study highlights the role of spirituality and religiosity in an age-specific population living with sickle cell disease. Exploring spirituality and religiosity may lead to innovative interventions improving quality of life.

Included in

Nursing Commons