I happen to be in the middle of a 4-part series of essays in Oncology Times on "Managing Uncertainty." In my October 20th post, I introduced Part I.
In Part 2, which is now available online, I describe how a patient's reactions to uncertainty may hamper efforts to make wise decisions, take effective action or enjoy otherwise good time -- all important elements in the pursuit of Healthy Survivorship.
(excerpt) In your care of patients, you manage your own reactions by distinguishing between different types of uncertainty.... If faced with uncertainty due to inadequate information, you are mobilized to action: You take a thorough history and order proper tests in your efforts to become as knowledgeable as possible.
In contrast, if dealing with probabilistic uncertainty, you step back and let go. Trained to accept your inability to know for sure or to predict, you don't fret. Instead, you wisely move on to other more productive activities.
Your patient can benefit from making the same distinctions.
Niebuhr's Serenity Prayer offers a patient-friendly way to talk about the two different types of uncertainty. Sharing the idea, if not the actual verse, about things one can and cannot change may lead your patients to a healing outlook—to wisdom.
For the full article, click here.