Journal of Excellence in Nursing and Healthcare Practice


Chronic illness is an increasing concern in the United States as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 50% of adults have at least one 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 management strategies of uncertainty in chronic illness from patients’ perspectives. 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 eight individuals who have chronic disease. Results revealed themes that individuals with chronic illness do experience uncertainty and that it impacts almost all aspects of their lives. Some of the themes identified were chronic illness, uncertainty, impact of uncertainty on daily living, coping or managing uncertainty, and communication from the healthcare team about uncertainty. The individuals expressed changes in daily activities and retraining their minds to accept their new normal. This study offers coping and management strategies that healthcare professionals can implement into treatment plans to improve the quality of life for individuals with uncertainty in chronic illness. The information produced from this study will aid healthcare providers in understanding the need to address the uncertainty at diagnoses and offer ways to assist patients in coping and managing uncertainty

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