Conference Proceeding

Lived Experiences of "Illness Uncertainty" of Iranian Cancer Patients: A Phenomenological Hermeneutic Study

Dr. Moosa Sajjadi ,
Assistant professor, Gonabad University of Medical Sciences, Iran

For cancer patients, uncertainty is a pervasive experience and a major psychological stressor that affects many aspects of their lives.

Dr. Moosa Sajjadi carried his PhD in Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, Tehran. Later he started working as a faculty member at the University Of Medical Sciences Of Gonabad. Presently he is working as an assistant professor affiliated to Gonabad University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran.

Background: For cancer patients, uncertainty is a pervasive experience and a major psychological stressor that affects many aspects of their lives. Uncertainty is a multifaceted concept, and its understanding for patients depends on many factors, including factors associated with various sociocultural contexts. Unfortunately, little is known about the concept of uncertainty in Iranian society and culture.
Objectives: This study aimed to clarify the concept and explain lived experiences of illness uncertainty in Iranian cancer patients.
Methods: In this hermeneutic phenomenological study, 8 cancer patients participated in semi structured in-depth interviews about their experiences of uncertainty in illness. Interviews continued until data saturation was reached. All interviews were recorded, transcribed, analyzed, and interpreted using 6 stages of the van Manen phenomenological approach.
Results: Seven main themes emerged from patients' experiences of illness uncertainty of cancer. Four themes contributed to uncertainty including "Complexity of Cancer," "Confusion about Cancer," "Contradictory Information," and "Unknown Future." Two themes facilitated coping with uncertainty including "Seeking Knowledge" and "Need for Spiritual Peace." One theme, "Knowledge Ambivalence," revealed the struggle between wanting to know and not wanting to know, especially if bad news was delivered.
Conclusion: Uncertainty experience for cancer patients in different societies is largely similar. However, some experiences (e.g., ambiguity in access to medical resources) seemed unique to Iranian patients.
Implications for Practice: This study provided an outlook of cancer patients' experiences of illness uncertainty in Iran. Cancer patients' coping ability to deal with uncertainty can be improved.

Published: 11 May 2017