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

All rights reserved. This publication is intended for use solely by faculty, students, and staff of Nova Southeastern University. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, now known or later developed, including but not limited to photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the author or the publisher.


College of Health Care Sciences – Occupational Therapy Department

Publication Date / Copyright Date



Nova Southeastern University


March 2011.

"Submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in the Occupational Therapy Department, College of Allied Health and Nursing, Nova Southeastern University."

This phenomenological study was designed to understand the lived experience of adolescents being treating for cancer and the impact of their lived experience on engagement in occupations and social participation. Participants in this study included four young adolescents 17-19 years of ages attending school on a part-time basis. They were on active treatment protocols for cancer and enjoyed participating in sports or other activities with friends. In-depth structured interviews with questions to illuminate the impact of cancer treatment on social participation were completed and audio recorded. Data analysis was completed utilizing a phenomenological reduction method to determine emerging themes and significant statements. A description of the experience and its meaning were then developed from themes emerging from the perspective of the participants. The four major themes and sub themes resulting from this study were: 1. Change of Lifestyle a) Physical & Emotional Pain of Living b) School Re-entry--A Saving Grace; 2. Exploring New Occupations a) Adapting Occupations b) Awakening or Confirming Beliefs; 3. Reconnecting with Family a) Importance of Support b) A Kid Again. 4. Living with Cancer Isn't Easy a) Isolation b) Hidden Disability. The findings revealed lifestyle changes, which these adolescents needed to deal with in order to maintain a sense of routine and engagement in occupation. Changes in appearance, physical strength, and overall endurance impacted the participants' ability to engage in occupation(s) which often led to isolation among their peers. In spite of this, participants discovered new occupations that were less physically demanding but still fostered social participation with peers. The study of social participation for adolescents with cancer has implications for and can assist in developing client-centered interventions and simultaneously increase occupational therapy's understanding of these individuals during a transitional period of their lives.


Occupational Therapy


Health and environmental sciences, Social sciences, Adolescents, Cancer treatment, Social participation

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