Illness Experiences among Chinese College Students: A Negotiation Process between Social Connections and Protection of Self-Image

Sunny ZQ LI (Guangzhou Yuekang Social Service Center, Guangzhou, China)
Johnston HC WONG (Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, BNU-HKBU United International College, Zhuhai, Guangdong, China)

Article ID: 4756

Abstract


This study explored the experience of illness in relation to self-image, biographical disruption, and the process of coping through semi-structured interviews with students of a university in China. Twelve students were recruited under three categories, having a physical chronic illness, mental health illness, and chronic multiple morbidities. Indepth interviews were conducted and content analyses were applied to their recordings to identify major themes and subordinate themes in the illness experience. Results showed a distorted sense of self and biographical disruptions in young adulthood were common, as reported by the respondents. Students tried to cope with these disruptions with both individual strengths and social support, but not always with positive results. Reconstruction of self, in the analysis of illness experiences, was found a crucial strategy in overcoming disruptions. Social support of evaluative nature facilitated the adoption of the reconstruction strategy. A network-building approach is recommended for student services in higher education whereas further research is necessary to understand the processes of self-reconstruction.


Keywords


Illness experience;Biographical disruption;Coping strategies;Higher education

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References


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DOI: https://doi.org/10.30564/jpr.v4i3.4756

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