Quality of life and uncertainty in illness for chronic patients

Valeria Caruso, Maria Daniela Giammanco, Lara Gitto


The experience of chronic illness, together with physical impairment and hospitalization in some cases, can be a difficult occurrence to manage. Illness determines changes in patients’ life style and limitations, that often cause psychological distress. It may happen that patients neither understand the meaning of the events correlated with illness, nor can predict when such events will occur. This uncertainty augments the negative impact of the state of chronic illness on patients’ quality of life.

The present study has the purpose to examine the correlations between uncertainty due to  chronic disease and patients’ quality of life, keeping into account the diverse coping strategies adopted and the anxiety/depression feelings developed during hospitalization.

There is an inverse correlation between chronic patients’ quality of life and the diverse dimensions of uncertainty in illness as identified by the Mishel Uncertainty in Illness Scale. The paper suggests how uncertainty hampers the possibility that patients choose coping strategies, involving their active management of illness. The lower the uncertainty, the higher is the possibility of activate coping mechanisms based on the acceptance of illness, together with a reflexive attitude concerning the actions to be taken to reduce the risk of anxiety/depression during hospitalization.

Finally, the present study presents some policy implications, suggesting how the medical staff should not only treat patients, but also help patients to elaborate problem solving strategies and to positively accept their chronic health state.


Uncertainty; Quality of life; Chronic patients; Coping; Anxiety/depression


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.6092/2282-1619/2014.2.990


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