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Cancer Nurs. 1992 Oct;15(5):363-71.

Uncertainty and anxiety after mastectomy for breast cancer.

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  • 1Victoria Hospital, London, Ontario, Canada.


The purpose of this study was to determine the relationship between uncertainty and anxiety in women after mastectomy for breast cancer and to describe women's responses to partial or complete mastectomy for breast cancer during the early rehabilitative phase after surgery. A theoretical framework for the study was derived from the Scott, Oberst, and Dropkin Stress-Coping Model and from a review of the literature. Major study variables and variable measures were uncertainty, measured by the Mishel Uncertainty in Illness Scale (MUIS), and anxiety, measured by the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI). Twenty-five women admitted to two acute-care teaching hospitals for their first partial or modified radical mastectomy made up the convenience sample of this study. Data were collected 1-2 days before and 1-2 weeks after hospital discharge. From study findings, it was shown that only at the postdischarge testing was there a significant positive correlation between uncertainty and state anxiety. The development of appropriate interventions to assist breast cancer patients in dealing with the fears of recurrence and uncertainties regarding treatment effectiveness and sequelae has relevance for nursing practice.

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