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Preoperative Uncertainty and Anxiety Among Chinese Patients With Gynecologic Cancer

Zarina Ismail
Winnie Kwok-wei So
Polly Wai-chi Li
ONF 2010, 37(1), E67-E74 DOI: 10.1188/10.ONF.E67-E74

Purpose/Objectives: To determine the levels of preoperative anxiety and uncertainty in Hong Kong Chinese women with gynecologic cancer, the demographic factors that may affect the intensity of anxiety, and the effects of uncertainty on the anxiety levels of these women.

Design: Cross-sectional.

Setting: The gynecologic oncology unit of a public hospital in Hong Kong.

Sample: 170 Chinese women with diagnosed (or suspected) gynecologic cancer who were scheduled for surgery and able to read Chinese.

Methods: A self-administered questionnaire consisting of the Chinese version of Mishel's Uncertainty in Illness Scale (MUIS-C), the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory, the Medical Outcomes Study Social Support Survey, and demographic data.

Main Research Variables: Gynecologic cancer, anxiety, and uncertainty.

Findings: The mean scores of state anxiety and on the MUIS-C were 48.3 (SD = 11.58) and 92.27 (SD = 13.49), respectively. A higher level of anxiety was significantly associated with inadequate social support (r = -0.189, p = 0.014) and a higher level of uncertainty (r = 0.405, p < 0.001).

Conclusions: Women perceiving a higher level of uncertainty are more likely to report a higher level of anxiety, although adequate social support may reduce this.

Implications for Nursing: Nurses should increase their awareness of the adverse effects of uncertainty on their patients' mental health. They can help to relieve anxiety by minimizing uncertainty levels of their patients through offering emotional support and providing information on the disease, treatment plans, and rehabilitation. Adequate social support should be provided to patients before surgery, which might help to reduce their anxiety.

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