Lauren Szulczewski, PsyD, Larry L. Mullins, PhD, Sarah L. Bidwell, MA, Angelica R. Eddington, PhD, Ahna L. H. Pai, PhD; Caregiver and Youth Uncertainty in Pediatric Chronic Illness: A Meta-Analytic Review of the Literature. J Pediatr Psychol 2017 jsw097. doi: 10.1093/jpepsy/jsw097
Objective To conduct a systematic review on the construct of illness uncertainty in caregivers and youth as related to the following: demographic and illness variables, psychological functioning, illness-related distress, and reaction/coping style. Methods A meta-analysis was conducted with articles assessing the associations between illness uncertainty and variables of interest that were published between November 1983 and June 2016 (n = 58). Results Psychological functioning and illness-related distress had primarily medium effect sizes. Demographic and illness variables had small effect sizes. More positive and fewer negative reaction/coping styles were associated with less illness uncertainty, with primarily small effects. Conclusions Illness uncertainty may be an important factor that influences psychological functioning and distress and coping in the context of pediatric chronic illness. However, additional research is needed to determine more precise mean effect sizes, as well as the potential efficacy of intervention to address uncertainty. Key words: adolescents, children, chronic illness, coping skills and adjustment, meta-analysis, parents, psychosocial functioning.