A Qualitative Examination of Attachment Styles in Women with Advanced Cancer Receiving Palliative Care

Document Type : Original Article


1 Department of Clinical and General Psychology, Faculty of Psychology and Educational Sciences, Allameh Tabataba'i University, Tehran, Iran

2 Department of Psychology, Palliative Care Ward, Firoozgar Hospital, ALA Cancer Prevention & Control Center (MACSA), Tehran, Iran

3 Department of Hematology and Medical Oncology, Faculty of Medicine, Iran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran


Introduction: The primary purpose of “palliative care” is to ensure the highest quality of life in terminally ill patients. Regarding this issue, paying attention to and being aware of the patient's attachment style may contribute to a proper understanding of their needs as well as challenges, and can be seen as a critical factor in overcoming high-stress conditions. Thus, the aim of the present study is a qualitative examination of the role of attachment styles in women with advanced cancer receiving palliative care.
Method: In the present qualitative study, nine women suffering from advanced cancer who had been referred to palliative care in Firoozgar Hospital in Tehran, from January to March 2018, were selected through purposive sampling. To gather the data, the Adult Attachment Interview (AAI) was employed, and the data was analyzed through content analysis method.
Results:  According to the results, the attachment of most participants was insecure (33% dismissive insecure attachment and 55% preoccupied insecure attachment).
Conclusion: Due to the stressful nature of the final stages of life in the palliative care context, paying attention to an individual’s attachment style by caregivers and health care team may be crucial.