Occupational Therapy Program Student Theses, Dissertations and Capstones

Document Type

Dissertation - NSU Access Only

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Occupational Therapy

Copyright Statement

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College of Health Care Sciences – Occupational Therapy Department

First Advisor

Ferol Ludwig

Second Advisor

Max Ito

Third Advisor

Marjorie Scaffa

Publication Date / Copyright Date



Nova Southeastern University


The purpose of this grounded theory qualitative study was to examine the experiences of college students who defined themselves as high-risk drinkers in order to understand the meaning and purpose that engagement in such a leisure occupation held for them. By examining the world of high-risk drinking, the study also sought to develop an understanding of the impact that high-risk drinking had upon psychosocial development during the college years. Individual open-ended interviews were conducted with four male and four female participants (aged 21 to 27). The data were analyzed by three analysts utilizing constant comparative procedures. The findings revealed an emergent grounded theory indicating high-risk drinking adhere to the serious leisure hobby framework developed by Stebbins (2007). As such, the participants had a long-term time investment with drinking, developed special skills through sustained effort, solidified a unique identity as a hobbyist, found deep meaning and purpose through the hobby, and performed the hobby within a unique and special world in concert with other hobbyists. Their high-risk drinking provided structure and a sense of belongingness within the larger university context. Further, the findings indicate that across time, facilitating factors catalyzed their engagement in the hobby, while the moderating factors became less influential. The participants also believed that their highrisk drinking will easily diminish post-graduation merely by changing their life role and context. iv Envisioning high-risk drinking as a serious leisure hobby, rather than a psychiatric or medical disorder, provides an alternative framework upon which prevention and intervention programming may be focused. Occupational therapist could provide an important health care role on campuses by assisting students to (a) understand the factors underlying the appeal of high-risk drinking, (b) understand the implications that a restricted range of leisure occupations may have upon their health, psychosocial development, and occupational identity, and (c) explore alternative health-producing leisure occupations.


Occupational Therapy


Health and environmental sciences, Social sciences, Psychology, High-risk drinking, Occupational balance, Occupational therapy, Serious leisure, Substance abuse, University students

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