Uncertainty and quality of life of older men who undergo watchful waiting for prostate cancer

Oncol Nurs Forum. Mar-Apr 2003;30(2):303-9. doi: 10.1188/03.onf.303-309.


Purpose/objectives: To explore uncertainty, anxiety, and the personal manner in which uncertainty is understood, and explain the health-related and affective quality of life (QOL) of men who undergo watchful waiting for prostate cancer.

Design: Descriptive, quantitative, survey approach.

Setting: United States.

Sample: A national sample of 21 men diagnosed with prostate cancer (mean age = 76 years) who had elected to receive no treatment for their disease.

Methods: 19 subjects who met the criteria contacted the researcher and completed the mailed questionnaire.

Main research variables: Uncertainty and QOL.

Findings: Moderate yet significant relationships were found between each of the independent variables. Significant relationships were found among uncertainty, anxiety, and the perception of danger (a dimension of QOL). Using hierarchical multiple regression, a model was built to explain 60% of the variance in this QOL dimension.

Conclusions: This study supports that men who undergo watchful waiting are uncertain and that this uncertainty results in their perception of danger and influences their affective health-functioning QOL. This study lends further support for the Uncertainty in Illness Model in the watchful waiting population.

Implications for nursing: The findings of this study imply that increased teaching and patient care management regarding watchful waiting are needed both before and after the treatment decision has been made. This study provides the framework for further study on interventions to improve the QOL of this population.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Oncology Nursing / methods*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / nursing*
  • Prostatic Neoplasms / psychology*
  • Quality of Life*
  • Research Design
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Uncertainty*
  • United States