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The aim of the study was to examine the relationships between uncertainty and its antecedents, including education, social support and symptom frequency in Korean patients with atrial fibrillation.The antecedents of uncertainty were theoretically identified from Mishel’s theory of uncertainty in illness. There is a need to examine empirically whether theoretically driven antecedents of uncertainty work in a way that the theory proposed.Descriptive correlational and cross-sectional survey design.Subjects were interviewed using structured study questionnaires. The data collected were statistically analysed by descriptive statistics and hierarchical regression analysis to determine the effects of antecedents on uncertainty.A convenience sample of 109 subjects recruited from three academic medical centres in South Korea. The overall model significantly explained 20·1% of the variance in uncertainty. Among antecedents of uncertainty, social support was significantly associated with less uncertainty (β = −0·26), while the education was not associated with uncertainty. Persons with greater social supports perceived less uncertainty, and individuals with greater symptom frequency reported greater uncertainty (β = 0·21).In Korean patients with atrial fibrillation, it was demonstrated that uncertainty in atrial fibrillation patients was predicted by social support and symptom frequency. Thus, the nursing strategies that reduce uncertainty which results in undesirable outcomes are required through maximising the social support patients perceived and minimising the symptom frequency. Therefore, these findings are relevant to clinical nurses who take care of patients with atrial fibrillation in terms of decreasing uncertainty that might result in patients’ psychological distress.The findings from this study may be beneficial for clinical nurses to understand and assess the psychosocial and emotional needs of patients with atrial fibrillation.