Experiences of Self and Family Relationships for Adolescents with Chronic Conditions

Kelsi Janssen Ovca, Fordham University


The purpose of the present study was to explore how having a chronic health condition during adolescence shapes family dynamics as well as intrapsychic dynamics of both the adolescent and the adolescent’s primary caregiver. Seven adolescent-parent dyads participated in this research by completing demographic questionnaires and semi-structured interviews, both together as a dyad and individually. Adolescents were diagnosed with a variety of chronic conditions (e.g., Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Autism Spectrum Disorder, and Crohn’s Disease) ranging substantially in the nature and degree of associated functional impact. A grounded theory methodology was employed using a constructivist-interpretivist research paradigm to collect and analyze interview data. Results yielded eight themes comprised of 36 focused codes and 55 open codes. From these codes, a central grounded theory emerged that depicted an emotionally complex journey associated with adolescent chronic conditions and illustrated the ways in which aspects of typical adolescent development, including identity development, progress towards independence, reliance on support from family, friends, and institutions, and shifts in the caregiver’s role are shaped and sometimes given sharper focus in light of the chronic condition.

Subject Area

Developmental psychology|Disability studies|Individual & family studies

Recommended Citation

Ovca, Kelsi Janssen, "Experiences of Self and Family Relationships for Adolescents with Chronic Conditions" (2020). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI27837903.