Date of Award

Spring 1992

Degree Type

Thesis - Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)



First Advisor

Shaw, Christine R.

Second Advisor

Fitzgerald Miller, Judith

Third Advisor

O'Brien Maureen


The purpose of this descriptive, correlational study was to measure perceived uncertainty as a variable influencing spouses of patients undergoing myocardial revascularization surgery. Since uncertainty may affect the spouse's coping abilities and emotional response, the study was designed to discover how certain mood states and methods of coping were related to uncertainty. A convenience sample of 30 females completed the Spouse Uncertainty in Illness Scale (Mishel, 1983b), the Jalowiec Coping Scale (Jalowiec, 1987), and. the Profile of Mood States (McNair, Lorr, & Dropplemann, 1971) on the evening prior to their husband's surgery. Analysis of data demonstrated that the spouses had a moderate degree of uncertainty (mean score of 72.40). Pearson Product Moment Correlations were performed between total uncertainty and use of coping methods. Total uncertainty was significantly positively related to the frequency of use score (r=0.38; p<.05). Significant relationships were also found to exist between total uncertainty and the use of evasive (r=0.51; p=0.004 ) , supportant (r=0.41; p=0.026), and fatalistic (r=0.38 ; p= I 0.037) coping methods. These findings support the view that uncertainty is appraised on a continuum in which both danger and opportunity exist, but fluctuate depending on daily circumstances. At the same times spouses may have: a) viewed surgery as an opportunity so used evasive and fatalistic methods to maintain their uncertainty and b) appraised surgery as a danger so used evasive and supportant methods to decrease their uncertainty. Pearson Product Moment Correlations were also utilized to determine whether uncertainty was related to emotional distress. The results of these correlations identified that total uncertainty (r=0.61; p=0.000) and the factors of ambiguity (r=0.65; p=0.000) and complexity (r=0.48; p=0.007) were positively related to total emotional distress. Uncertainty may have increased the amount of emotional distress experienced by the spouses. On the other hand, emotional responses may have affected the spouses ability to cognitively process information and created the uncertainty. This study provides insight into the interactive relationships that exist between perceived uncertainty, coping methods and emotional distress. Implications suggest that nursing strategies must deal with emotion-focused coping in uncertain situations.



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