Reducing Uncertainty in Families Dealing With Childhood Cancers: An Integrative Literature Review

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Uncertainty can decrease coping mechanisms in parents of children with cancer. Interventions to help families adapt more quickly and effectively are unknown. The purpose of this article is to review research relating uncertainty to stress, anxiety, and adaptation. Recommendations regarding psychosocial support and educational interventions to facilitate adaptation in families dealing with childhood cancer are discussed.Methodology: An integrative literature review was conducted through online databases in nursing and psychology: CINAHL, Medline, PubMed, and PsycInfo. Guidelines from Torraco (2005) were used to enhance the rigor of selection and analysis of the literature included. Limits were set for research articles and dissertations published since 1990 using search words of uncertainty, chronic, life-threatening illness, diagnosis, anxiety, stress, adaptation, cancer, nursing, education, and support. Twenty-nine articles were eventually selected for inclusion in the review.Results: Uncertainty, anxiety, and stress play a role in family adaptation and coping. Evidence suggests time-sensitive interventions directed toward education and psychosocial support for all patients/families dealing with a new diagnosis of chronic illnesses are needed.Conclusions: Evidence-based interventions to reduce uncertainty and facilitate health adaptation for parents of children with cancer are needed.

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