Theory of uncertainty in illness in patients with cancer of unknown primary origin: Structure providers as antecedents of uncertainty in a population of cancer patients with an unknown primary diagnosis
Uncertainty has been found to be a major component of the cancer experience and can dramatically affect psychosocial adaptation and outcomes of a patient's disease state (McCormick, 2002). Patients with a diagnosis of Carcinoma of Unknown Primary (CUP) may experience higher levels of uncertainty due to the unpredictability of current and future symptoms, limited treatment options and an undetermined life expectancy. To date, only one study has touched upon uncertainty and its' effects on those with CUP but no information exists concerning the effects of uncertainty regarding diagnosis and treatment on the distress level and psychosocial adjustment of this population (Parker & Lenzi, 2003). Mishel's Uncertainty in Illness Theory (1984) proposes that uncertainty is preceded by three variables, one of which being Structure Providers. Structure Providers include credible authority, the degree of trust and confidence the patient has with their doctor, education and social support. It was the goal of this study to examine the relationship between uncertainty and Structure Providers to support the following hypotheses: (1) There will be a negative association between credible authority and uncertainty, (2) There will be a negative association between education level and uncertainty, and (3) There will be a negative association between social support and uncertainty. This cross-sectional analysis utilized data from 219 patients following their initial consultation with their oncologist. Data included the Mishel Uncertainty in Illness Scale (MUIS) which was used to determine patients' uncertainty levels, the Medical Outcomes Study-Social Support Scale (MOSS-SSS) to assess patients, levels of social support, the Patient Satisfaction Questionnaire (PSQ-18) and the Cancer Diagnostic Interview Scale (CDIS) to measure credible authority and general demographic information to assess age, education, marital status and ethnicity. In this study we found that uncertainty levels were generally higher in this sample as compared to other types of cancer populations. And while our results seemed to support most of our hypothesis, we were only able to show significant associations between two. The analyses indicated that credible authority measured by both the CDIS and the PSQ was a significant predictor of uncertainty as was social support measured by the MOSS-SS. Education has shown to have an inconsistent pattern of effect in relation to uncertainty and in the current study there was not enough data to significantly support our hypothesis. The results of this study generally support Mishel's Theory of Uncertainty in Illness and highlight the importance of taking into consideration patients, psychosocial factors as well as employing proper communication practices between physicians and their patients.
LaPushin, Talia, "Theory of uncertainty in illness in patients with cancer of unknown primary origin: Structure providers as antecedents of uncertainty in a population of cancer patients with an unknown primary diagnosis" (2009). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI1467649.