Illness Uncertainty and Its Antecedents for Patients With Prostate Cancer and Their Partners

Ting Guan, MS; Peiran Guo, MS; Sheila Judge Santacroce, PhD, RN; Ding-Geng Chen, PhD; Lixin Song, PhD, RN


Objectives: Guided by Mishel’s uncertainty in illness theory, patterns of change in uncertainty were explored over time for patients with prostate cancer and their partners. In addition, the relationships between uncertainty and its antecedents were examined, and the role effects (patient versus partner) on these relationships were assessed.

Sample & Setting: This study is a secondary analysis of the longitudinal data collected from a randomized clinical trial.

Methods & Variables: The current authors fitted multiple-level models that included time-invariant baseline variables (sociodemographics and cancer factors) and time-varying variables (uncertainty, symptoms, and social support) measured at baseline and at 4, 8, and 12 months thereafter.

Results: No statistically significant patterns of change in uncertainty over time were detected. Partners reported greater uncertainty than patients. Higher uncertainty was associated with more general and prostate cancer–specific symptoms, recurrent and advanced prostate cancer, higher prostate-specific antigen level, and lower social support. More urinary symptoms were associated with greater uncertainty in patients than in partners.

Implications for Nursing: Uncertainty management can be tailored for and target symptom management and social support.

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