Date of Award

January 2020

Degree Type

Open Access Thesis

Document Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

First Advisor

Leslie J. Hardman

Department Affiliation

Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy

Second Advisor

Camille Skubik-Peplaski

Department Affiliation

Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy

Third Advisor

Cassandra Ginn

Department Affiliation

Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy


Chronic conditions are ongoing, have a pattern of recurrence or deterioration, and produce consequences impacting an individual’s quality of life. An estimated 164 million Americans are expected to be affected by chronic conditions by the year 2025 (Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease, 2016). College students with chronic conditions face unique challenges making it difficult to succeed in traditional degree programs due to unpredictable shifts in wellness. The purpose of this qualitative research was to discover the lived experience of college students with chronic conditions. Eight adult, full-time, traditional university students with chronic conditions were recruited and participated in a one-time, face-to-face interview. Interviews were transcribed verbatim and reviewed for common themes. A line-by-line coding technique for thematic analysis was used in which recurring meaningful similarities were identified. Four overall themes emerged: imposing symptoms, fluctuating routines, balancing identities, and furthering acceptance. This research reveals implications for occupational therapists to promote success within postsecondary educational settings through intervention services such as providing energy and fatigue management education, promoting occupational balance, and skill building interventions to address time management and resilience.