Perceived Uncertainty, Coping Strategies, and Adaptation in Women With Human Papillomavirus on Pap Smear

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Objective.To explore, identify, and describe the perception of uncertainty over time in college-aged women experiencing the unexpected event of an abnormal Pap smear with human papillomavirus (HPV).Methods.Eighty-eight female patients, who had abnormal Pap smear and had indications for colposcopy, were recruited from a Student Health Service and consented for study participation. Uncertainty levels were measured over time. Relationships among uncertainty, knowledge of HPV, body attitude and moods, coping strategies, and follow-up were evaluated.Results.The relationship between uncertainty and coping strategies was supported in the emotion-focused path as predicted but not in the problem-focused path. Evidence of adaptation to uncertainty through emotion-focused coping was found in the significant relationship between emotion-focused coping and body attitude. Similarly, there was a significant relationship between emotion-focused coping and moods in the path analysis and in correlations with the subcategories of positive and negative moods. The problem-focused indirect path from uncertainty to adaptation showed no significant relationship. Likewise, uncertainty also had no significant direct effect on body attitude or promptness of follow-up but did have a direct impact on moods. The direct path from previous knowledge to uncertainty was not supported.Conclusions.The presence of uncertainty over time was established in this study population. Statistically significant relationships were confirmed among uncertainty, emotion-focused coping strategies, and adaptation in a group of young women experiencing a mildly abnormal Pap smear.

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