Marleah Dean and Richard L. Street, Jr.

19Managing uncertainty in clinical encounters

Abstract: One of the most understudied and problematic aspects of communication skills in medical encounters is the management of uncertainty. This chapter reviews evidence related to theories of uncertainty in health and illness, different sources of uncertainty, the psychosocial effects of medical uncertainty, and communicative skills clinicians can use to assist patients 'manage' uncertainty. We then demonstrate how these communication skills can be learned and routinely applied in delivery of health care in order to improve health outcomes. We conclude with particular priorities for future research exploring uncertainty management in clinical encounters. ...

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