Sources of uncertainty and coping strategies used by family members of individuals living with end stage renal disease

Nephrol Nurs J. 2001 Aug;28(4):411-7, 419; discussion 418-9.


This article presents an analysis of the experience of family members of individuals with chronic renal disease undergoing dialysis therapy. Themes are derived from interviewing family members regarding the sources of uncertainty experienced and the types of coping strategies used to manage the stress related to uncertainty. The sample consisted of 41 family members including spouses, adult children, siblings, a niece, and a daughter-in-law from Eastern Canada. Data were collected from focus group interviews and thematic analysis was used to derive the themes. Emerging themes of uncertainty arose from many sources including: the patient's health, dialysis treatment, potential loss of the patient, and/or the availability of a kidney transplantation. The family members coped with the stress generated by the uncertainty by living each day as it comes, finding positive meaning, hoping for a transplant, and/or drawing on God's strength. Findings from this study provide direction for renal health care professionals to assist family members to prepare for, to understand, and to adapt to constant sources of uncertainty in their lives.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Family / psychology*
  • Fear*
  • Female
  • Focus Groups
  • Grief
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / psychology*
  • Kidney Failure, Chronic / therapy
  • Male
  • Mental Health
  • Middle Aged
  • Morale
  • Nursing Methodology Research
  • Quality of Life
  • Religion and Psychology
  • Stress, Psychological / etiology
  • Stress, Psychological / prevention & control
  • Stress, Psychological / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires