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Leslie C. Hussey


Chronic illness is an increasing concern in the United States as the CDC reports that about 50% of adults have at least 1 chronic illness. When individuals must adjust to chronic illness they may experience uncertainty regarding the illness, prognosis, and symptoms. The purpose of this qualitative, phenomenological study was to explore the lived experiences of individuals living with uncertainty in chronic illnesses. A Merle Mishel's uncertainty in illness theory was the framework used to explore the lives of individuals diagnosed and living with chronic illness. In-depth interviews were conducted with 8 individuals who have chronic disease; data were audio-recorded and transcribed. The data were analyzed using thematic coding, and stored in NVivo and categorized for commonality in results. Results revealed themes that individuals with chronic illness do experience uncertainty and that it impacts almost all aspects of their lives. The individuals expressed changes in daily activities, the need to plan ahead, altering plans based on symptoms, and retraining their minds to accept their new normal. Individuals diagnosed with chronic illness face daily challenges. Obtaining a better understanding of alternate ways to cope and manage uncertainty can greatly impact the individuals quality of life. The information produced from this study will help contribute to positive social change to enable healthcare providers to address the uncertainty at diagnoses and offer ways for individuals to cope and manage the additional stressor. Recommended areas for further research include repeating the study with a larger, more diverse sample, conducting interviews during different times of the year, and investigating the use of a multidisciplinary team approach for chronic illness treatment.