Date of Award

January 2017

Degree Type

Open Access Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy

First Advisor

Julie Baltisberger

Second Advisor

Dana M. Howell

Third Advisor

Anne Fleischer


Background: Young adults are relatively understudied and often misrepresented in oncology research and practice, as they are often overlooked or clumped in with pediatric or older adult patients. There is a gap in literature for young adults with cancer and this study was done in an effort to help bridge that gap while exploring social participation along with peer support. Social participation is the interweaving of occupations to support desired engagement in community and family activities as well as those involving peers and friends (American Occupational Therapy Association, 2014). This will not only elicit a better understanding of the impact that cancer has on social participation, but also provide evidence for age-appropriate services to facilitate social participation for young adults with cancer.

Method: Four young adults were interviewed about their experience with cancer and social participation. Interviews were recorded and transcribed verbatim. Data were analyzed using a qualitative descriptive approach, which included coding and collapsing codes into themes.

Results: Study findings suggest a significant need for social participation opportunities for young adults with cancer.

Discussion: Occupational therapists can provide unique ways to overcome barriers to social participation within the community, and with family, and friends for young adults with cancer.