Background: Sudden sensorineural hearing loss occurs mainly in individuals between 40 and 60 years of age. Most sudden hearing loss cases of nonspecific cause lack well-defined treatments and have no predictable progress. Sudden hearing loss symptoms, diagnoses and illness patterns resemble factors that Mishel's Theory of Uncertainty in Illness identify as potential causes of uncertainty. Uncertainty may block communication and affect a patient's ability to adapt to his or her condition and accept treatment. Purpose: This study describes level of uncertainty in illness and explores related factors among patients with sudden hearing loss. Methods: The authors employed a cross-sectional study design and recruited 60 patients with an initial diagnosis of idiopathic sudden sensorineural hearing loss. Data collected using a structured questionnaire included participant demographics and the Chinese version of the Mishel Uncertainty in Illness Scale (MUIS). Results: Results showed: (1) Illness uncertainty in participants was high (M = 71.75, SD = 12.93); (2) Perceived understanding of illness was the only variable significantly related to illness uncertainty (p <.01); and (3) Education, gender, type of occupation, religious belief, perceived illness severity, perceived illness understanding and perceived self-control over symptoms explained 25% of illness uncertainty variance. "Perceived understanding of illness" was identified as a significant predictor of illness uncertainty (p <.01). Conclusions / Implications for practice: Increasing illness understanding should be a focus of nursing care for sudden hearing loss patients in order to decrease patient illness uncertainty.
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