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Identification of Illness Uncertainty in Veterinary Oncology: Implications for Service

By Debbie L. Stoewen, Jason B. Coe, Clare MacMartin, Elizabeth A. Stone, Catherine E. Dewey

Category Journal Articles
Abstract

Uncertainty has been identified as the central psychological feature of illness experiences, necessitating a variety of coping strategies to effectively manage it and successfully adapt. The purpose of this qualitative study was to determine the expectations of veterinary clients accessing oncology care services at a tertiary referral center for dogs with life-limiting cancer. The study consisted of 43 dog owners participating in 30 independent in-person single and dyadic interviews conducted with standardized open- and closed-ended questions from April to October 2009. Thematic analysis (supplemented with content analysis) was performed on transcripts of the interview discussions. Uncertainty was inadvertently identified as a central theme of the clients' experience. The diagnosis of a serious, life-limiting cancer and its treatment appeared to move clients into a world of uncertainty, which affected their feelings, thoughts, behaviors, attitudes, and personal expectations in relation to their dog, and their expectations of the oncology service. With uncertainty appraised mostly as a danger, clients appeared to employ multiple coping strategies to reduce uncertainty in the effort to adapt to the new reality of living with and caring for a dog with cancer. The need to manage uncertainty influenced their expectations of the service, specifically for information, ongoing relationships, 24-h access, and timely care. Our findings have implications for the delivery of specialty oncology services and for client welfare. When working with owners of dogs with life-limiting cancer, results suggest health care providers can facilitate the management of uncertainty to enhance clients' psychological well-being, thereby supporting clients' successful adaptation to the cancer experience.

Submitter

Marcy Wilhelm-South

Purdue University

Date 2019
Publication Title Frontiers in Veterinary Science
Volume 6
Pages 15
DOI 10.3389/fvets.2019.00147
URL frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fvets.2019.00147/full
Language English
Additional Language English
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Tags
  1. Cancer
  2. Communication
  3. oncology
  4. open access
  5. Pet ownership
  6. Veterinary medicine
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  1. open access