Date of Award


Degree Name

Doctor of Nursing Science


Chronic illness, nursing, Phenomenology


Chronic illness is currently the number one health problem facing the United States; however, little is known about the experience of making chronic illness a part of one's life, particularly from the perspective of the chronically ill person. If nurses are to assist people in living with chronic illness, then an understanding of this experience is essential. Therefore, the purpose of this phenomenological inquiry was to explore how chronically ill adults integrate chronic illness into their lives. Seventeen chronically ill adults were interviewed by the researcher, and asked to describe how they integrated chronic illness into their lives. Each interview was audio taped and transcribed. Utilizing Colaizzi's method of data analysis, significant statements were extracted from each interview and then collated and analyzed for formulated meanings. The four major themes that emerged from this analysis were: confronting loss, riding a roller coaster of emotions, making changes, and gaining control of an altered life direction. Some of the major recommendations and implications for practice centered around a need for health care providers to recognize and assess factors important in integrating chronic illness into one's life. These major factors included: loss as a ongoing and unending experience, and how this loss may influence participants' willingness and ability to implement changes; emotional drain of living with chronic illness; dilemmas that arise between implementing treatment plans and participating in valued activities; and support of friends and family as valuable, but not always available. Further research is needed to address how these factors can be incorporated into the care of the chronically ill and the influence these might ultimately have on the course of the illness and quality of life.

Document Type

Dissertation: Open Access



Included in

Nursing Commons