Nursing ETDs

Publication Date



This exploratory study described levels of personal growth and examined relationships among personal growth, demographic, clinical, and cognitive factors in a convenience sample (N = 103) of community-residing adults with New York Heart Association (NYHA) functional class II-IV heart failure (HF). The study was guided by Mishels reconceptualized uncertainty in illness theory and Tedeschi and Calhoun's post-traumatic growth model. The following research questions were addressed: (1) Do adults living with NYHA class II-IV HF report personal growth following their diagnosis of HF? (2) To what extent are age, sex, ethnicity, disease severity, time since diagnosis, symptom status, and uncertainty levels associated with personal growth in individuals with HF? and (3) Which variables (age, sex, ethnicity, disease severity, time since diagnosis, symptom status, or uncertainty levels) make independent contributions to personal growth in individuals living with NYHA class II-IV HF? Participants completed a demographic and clinical survey, the Posttraumatic Growth Inventory (PTGI), the Mishel Uncertainty in Illness Scale-Community Version, and the Memorial Symptom Assessment Scale—Heart Failure. Participants reported moderate levels of personal growth (M = 48.6, SD = 28.6). There were no significant differences in personal growth by sex, ethnicity, or disease severity. Personal growth had a weak, negative correlation with age (r = —.20, p < .05) and a weak, positive correlation with symptom burden (r = .20, p < .05). Uncertainty was positively correlated with symptom burden (r = .49, p < .01) and disease severity (r = .28, p < .01), but was not significantly correlated with PTGI scores. A hierarchical regression model that included age, sex, ethnicity, NYHA classification, years since diagnosis, uncertainty, and symptom burden did not account for significant variance in PTGI scores. Findings provide foundational knowledge to guide future study of personal growth in HF and add to the overall literature on personal growth in relation to uncertainty and symptoms within chronic illness.

Degree Name


Level of Degree


Department Name

College of Nursing

First Committee Member (Chair)

Boursaw, Blake

Second Committee Member

Haozous, Emily A.

Third Committee Member

Decker, Ilene M.


Personal growth, Heart failure, Uncertainty



Document Type