Lived Experience of Children with Heart Disease and Cancer about Death Anxiety: A Phenomenological Study

Document Type: Original Article


1 PhD Student in Health Psychology, Department of Psychology, School of Psychology and Education, Karaj Branch, Kharazmi University, Karaj, Iran

2 Associate Professor, Department of Clinical Psychology, Faculty of Psychology and Education, Kharazmi University, Tehran, Iran


Introduction: Death anxiety is one of the ultimate anxieties of humankind, which is caused by consciousness of mortality and inevitability of death. Considering the fact that knowledge of death and experience of death anxiety arise from childhood, the objective of this study was to explore the experiences of children with heart disease and cancer about death anxiety.
Methods: This study was conducted qualitatively with a phenomenological approach. The participants were 15 children with cancer and congenital heart disease (CHD) at Ali Asghar (AS), Modarres, and Rasoul-e-Akram hospitals in Tehran in 2018, whose information was collected through semi-structured interviews. The participants were selected via purposive sampling and the data were analyzed by Colaizzi's method.
Results: The analysis of the data led to the development of a main category called anxiety, which consists of six subcategories including imaginary manifestations of death, loneliness and nothingness, fear and anxiety, unknowns, religious beliefs, and sorrow for others.
Conclusion: The investigation of the experiences of children showed that death anxiety is a very important concept in the minds of children with heart disease and cancer and it has different aspects. Therefore, proper knowledge of the various aspects of death anxiety can lead to the provision of appropriate educational materials and the use of various sources for reducing the level of anxiety experienced by children.


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