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A Concept Analysis of Parental Uncertainty in Illness of an Infant

Malin, Kathryn Jeanne MSN, RN, NNP-BC; Johnson, Teresa S. PhD, RN

MCN: The American Journal of Maternal/Child Nursing: July/August 2019 - Volume 44 - Issue 4 - p 206–211
doi: 10.1097/NMC.0000000000000535
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Background: The concept of uncertainty in illness has been well described and applied to many different areas of nursing and other disciplines. Specifically, parental uncertainty in illness of an infant is a meaningful concept that has specific attributes and implications. A current concept analysis that considers the changing healthcare setting, historical conceptual inconsistencies, and a lack of information concerning parents of infants is needed.

Purpose: To identify essential antecedents, attributes, and consequences of parental uncertainty in illness using Rodgers' Evolutionary Concept Analysis method.

Methods: A literature search was conducted using PubMed, CINAHL, and PsycInfo. The following keywords were used in combination using the Boolean terms “AND” and “OR”: parental uncertainty; infants; parental uncertainty in illness; preterm infants; parent; uncertainty. Inclusion criteria: articles published between 2000 and 2017 and published in English. The search included 38 articles published from 2000 to 2017 with a specific focus on parental uncertainty in illness.

Findings: Parental uncertainty in illness of an infant is a paradoxical, cognitive, and emotional experience in which there is an inability to create meaning and may cause disruption in parental role development.

Implications for Practice: Nursing care of parents with ill infants and children must include sensitivity to parents' experiences of uncertainty in illness. Nurses are uniquely positioned to normalize parental uncertainty and facilitate healthy coping.

In this article, essential antecedents, attributes, and consequences of parental uncertainty in illness are identified based on a review of the literature. Parental uncertainty in illness of an infant is a paradoxical, cognitive and emotional experience which may cause disruption in parental role development. Nursing care of parents with ill infants and children must include sensitivity to parents' experiences of uncertainty in illness, normalize parental uncertainty, and facilitate healthy coping.

Kathryn Jeanne Malin is a PhD Student, The University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, and Neonatal Nurse Practitioner, Children's Hospital of Wisconsin Milwaukee, Milwaukee, WI. The author can be reached via e-mail at kmalin@uwm.edu.

Teresa S. Johnson is a Professor, College of Nursing, The University of Wisconsin Milwaukee, Milwaukee, WI.

Supplemental digital content is available for this article. Direct URL citations appear in the printed text and are provided in the HTML and PDF versions of this article on the journal's Web site (www.mcnjour-nal.com).

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

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