As we enter the age of “precision medicine,” we will need “a greater tolerance of uncertainty and greater facility for calculating and interpreting probabilities than” (Hunter, 2016, p. 711) ever before. Nursing scholarship has produced the most widely known theory of uncertainty in illness (Mishel, 1988, 1990), but it emphasizes the psychological state of and deemphasizes communication. Communication scholars have attempted to overcome this deficit, but two of the most prominent of these perspectives, uncertainty management theory (Brashers, 2001) and the theory of motivated information management (Afifi & Morse, 2004), emphasize processes related to information seeking or avoidance in the service of uncertainty reduction, creation, or maintenance; in so doing, they tend to neglect important variations in the meanings of uncertainty. The article reviews these theories and also problematic integration theory, which centers the task of differentiating forms of uncertainty and other problematic meanings and the importance of form-specific adaptation of communication. The paper concludes with an agenda for collaborations between nursing and communication researchers aimed at advancing theory and practice.
Babrow, A. S., & Stone, A. M. (2021). Theories of Communication and Uncertainty as a Foundation for Future Research on Nursing Practice. Nursing Communication, 1 (1). Retrieved from https://repository.usfca.edu/nursingcommunication/vol1/iss1/3