Adolescents' perspectives of chronic illness: "it's hard"

J Pediatr Nurs. 1998 Aug;13(4):210-23. doi: 10.1016/S0882-5963(98)80048-1.


An exploratory, qualitative study with tenets from grounded theory was used to elicit detailed descriptions of adolescents' chronic illness experiences. The philosophy of symbolic interactionism guided this study. Understanding the adolescents' experiences included exploring adolescents' perspectives of the following: (1) what it is like to have a chronic illness, and (2) how they deal with having a chronic illness. A sample of 23 adolescents, 13 to 16 years of age, and diagnosed with either diabetes, asthma, arthritis, Crohn's disease, or ulcerative colitis participated. Data collection involved the adolescents participating in open-ended interviews. The constant comparative method was used to analyze all data from the interviews. The findings revealed that having a chronic illness made life more difficult for the adolescents. Adolescents experience extra effort, restriction, pain, and additional worries because of having a chronic illness. However, adolescents also clearly had ways to help them deal with their illness. These strategies and recommendations for practice and future research are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior*
  • Anecdotes as Topic
  • Chronic Disease / nursing*
  • Chronic Disease / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Pediatric Nursing*