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Uncertainty and Personal Growth Through Positive Coping Strategies Among Chinese Parents of Children With Acute Leukemia

He, Shan MSN, RN; You, Li-ming PhD, RN; Zheng, Jing PhD, RN; Bi, Yu-lan RN

doi: 10.1097/NCC.0000000000000279
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Background: Having a child in the family with acute leukemia (AL) is a challenge for the parents and can trigger parental uncertainty. Through positive coping with uncertainty, parents can demonstrate positive psychological changes, including higher adaptability.

Objectives: The purposes of this study were to measure uncertainty, coping strategies, and growth through uncertainty (GTU) and explore the relationships among them in parents of children with AL in China. Related factors of parental uncertainty were also explored.

Methods: A descriptive and correlative design was used. Ninety-five parents of children with AL participated. Parental uncertainty, coping, and GTU were measured by the translated Chinese versions of scales originally developed by Mishel, McCubbin, and Mishel.

Results: Parental uncertainty was found to be prevalent in parents of children with AL in China. It did not have a direct impact on GTU, but rather was mediated through coping. Coping was negatively associated with unpredictability (r = −0.225, P < .05), while positively associated with GTU (r = 0.391, P < .01).

Conclusions: Through reordering of priorities of life events, parents acquired GTU during the process of their child’s illness and treatment. Use of positive coping strategies by parents could help them to manage the stress associated with the unpredictability of child’s illness and to promote a healthy maintenance of GTU.

Implications for Practice: Nurses could assume a more active role in identifying sources and level of parental uncertainty, encouraging parents to stay optimistic, and promoting change in perceptions of uncertainty from danger to opportunity.

Author Affiliations: School of Nursing, Chongqing Medical University, Chongqing (Ms He); and School of Nursing (Ms He and Drs You and Zheng) and Department of Pediatrics, Sun Yat-sen Memorial Hospital, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou (Ms Bi), China.

The authors have no funding or conflicts of interest to disclose.

Correspondence: Li-ming You, PhD, RN, School of Nursing, Sun Yat-sen University, 74 Zhongshan Rd II, Guangzhou 510089, China (youlm@mail.sysu.edu.cn).

Accepted for publication March 17, 2015.

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