The uncertainty room: strategies for managing uncertainty in a surgical waiting room.

Anne M. Stone, John C. Lammers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


To describe experiences of uncertainty and management strategies for staff working with families in a hospital waiting room. A 288-bed, nonprofit community hospital in a Midwestern city. Data were collected during individual, semistructured interviews with 3 volunteers, 3 technical staff members, and 1 circulating nurse (n = 7), and during 40 hours of observation in a surgical waiting room. Interview transcripts were analyzed using constant comparative techniques.Results: The surgical waiting room represents the intersection of several sources of uncertainty that families experience. Findings also illustrate the ways in which staff manage the uncertainty of families in the waiting room by communicating support. Staff in surgical waiting rooms are responsible for managing family members' uncertainty related to insufficient information. Practically, this study provided some evidence that staff are expected to help manage the uncertainty that is typical in a surgical waiting room, further highlighting the important role of communication in improving family members' experiences.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)27-30
Number of pages4
JournalThe Permanente journal
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2012
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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