Communication and the Appraisal of Uncertainty: Exploring Parents’ Communication with Credible Authorities in the Context of Chronic Childhood Illness

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24 Scopus citations

Abstract

Individuals with chronic illnesses must manage long-term uncertainty as they cope with the ways the illness influences their lives. In the context of pediatric illnesses, parents must manage uncertainty during the diagnosis and treatment of their child’s illness. It is common for children with complex chronic illnesses to see multiple specialists for the treatment of their condition. While previous research has explored parents’ uncertainty during a child’s diagnosis and during end-of-life care, less is known about these experiences when the child is referred to a team of specialists for treatment. The aim of the current study was to explore how specialists, as credible authorities, influence parents’ uncertainty during parents’ first visit to a multidisciplinary clinic for the care of their child’s complex chronic illness. Data were collected through semi-structured interviews with 29 parents after their child’s first visit to a vascular anomaly clinic at a large Midwestern children’s hospital. The results suggest parents’ communication with credible authorities facilitates effective uncertainty management primarily through the mechanism of uncertainty reappraisal. The results also suggest that specialists, as credible authorities, are a key mechanism in the appraisal of uncertainty for conditions that are often misdiagnosed and mismanaged.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)201-211
Number of pages11
JournalHealth Communication
Volume34
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 28 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017, © 2017 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Communication

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