Mishel’s (1988) Uncertainty in Illness theory is a mid-range nursing theory that examines how uncertainty can affect patients. In addition, Mishel’s theory identifies causes of uncertainty that negatively or positively affect the patient. If an individual is spiraling down a known path of illness, they may perceive uncertainty as a benefit. However, illness uncertainty causes breakdowns, fear of the illness, emotional distress, loss of control, and inappropriate coping methods (Mishel 1988). These conditions if left untreated will lead to patients that are unable to form cognitive structures for illness related events, develop improper psychological adjustments, poor decision-making, and traumatic stress responses (Mishel 1988). Along with her theory, Mishel (1988) developed a scale to rate uncertainty to measure the degree of an individual’s uncertainty during acute injuries, illness, and recurrence of chronic sickness. There is a desire to know what is happening to one’s body, and not understanding the illness will lead to patients being less comfortable. It is the obligation of the nursing profession to help patients understand what their illness means to them, expect outcomes, and managing the stress of uncertainty. Mishel’s theory (1981) is an important aspect of the nurse’s ability to overcome obstacles in place by uncertainty to benefit the well-being of patients.
Uncertainty in Chronic Diseases
Chronic diseases put people in a state of watchful awareness of their condition. While chronic conditions and the outcomes are well studied, the psychological effects of uncertainty remain in question (Baily, Lawrence, Barroso, Bixby, Michel, Muir, Strickland & Clip, 2009). The intrusion of any chronic sickness is a highly stressful event and poses many obstacles to everyday life. Learning to cope with changes to lifestyle and managing expectations due to chronic sicknesses is a challenge that profession nurses will have to deal with.
Uncertainty in Chronic Hepatitis C
The journal article by Baily, et al. (2009) goes into detail of the effects of uncertainty in patients with chronic Hepatitis C. The authors focus their study on the uncertainty of those people infected with the disease that are not currently presenting symptoms. Using Mishel’s Uncertainty in Illness Scale the authors identify and measure four specific psychological points. They collectively measure the patient’s objective cues about the state of the illness as ambiguity. The complexity as how hard it is to receive and understand treatment for Hepatitis C in a healthcare setting. The inconsistency is viewed as information from health care providers that may change or is inconsistent with other information previously presented. Unpredictability is how the present illness differs from what the patient has experienced previously.
According to Baily, et al. (2009) lack of treatment to cure the disease will lead to a patient’s uncertainty on how the illness will present itself in the...