“NOBODY WANTS TO FEEL DIFFERENT…BUT IT’S JUST THE WAY IT IS”:
EXPERIENCES OF STIGMA AND OTHER STRESSORS AMONG
PEOPLE LIVING WITH PSORIASIS
It is understood that stigmatizing processes can, and do, affect multiple domains of life among people who bear a stigma label. It is also understood that sources of stress (stressors) can spill over into a variety of areas of life, impacting the health and well-being of stigmatized people. However, although both stigma research and stress research advance, little has been done to connect these two important lines of sociological inquiry. To address this gap, 23 semi-structured qualitative in-person and telephone interviews were conducted to examine the daily, lived experiences of stigma and other stressors among people living with psoriasis (PLWP), a group of people with one of the most common chronic skin conditions (CSC). A grounded theory approach to emergent narrative themes was utilized to uncover the variety of ways that stigma operates in the stress process framework, including how stigma-related stress proliferates into many domains of life, and how PLWP attempt to manage and cope with stigma and other psoriasis-related stressors. Findings revealed that the multidimensional nature of psoriasis shapes the meaning(s) PLWP attach to their CSC; psoriasis-related stigma operates as a stressor that is often chronic, permeating the daily life of PLWP and contributing to the development of an “psoriasis identity”; and PLWP utilize, to varying degrees of success, personal and social resources such as coping and social support in efforts to reduce stressful circumstances and their distressing outcomes. Data presented in this study contribute to our understanding of stigma, social stress, and health processes among PLWP as well as other stigmatized groups of people suffering from chronic illness.
About the Speaker
Dr. Parkhouse joined the faculty of the sociology department, Fall 2016. His research and teaching interests are health and illness, mental health and stress process, and social stigma. In his work, he utilizes qualitative and quantitative research methods to investigate a variety of contemporary health-related issues such as chronic illness, health attitudes and behavior, and health outcomes of stigmatized populations. Dr. Parkhouse’s latest research examines stigma and other stressors experienced on a day-to-day basis by people living with psoriasis. Findings from this qualitative work based on in-depth interviews and participant observation, highlight the variety of ways that stigma operates in the stress process, including how stigma-related stress proliferates into many domains of daily life, and how people living with psoriasis manage and cope with stigma and other psoriasis-related stressors. In addition to conducting research on health-related topics, Dr. Parkhouse is especially passionate about his time in the classroom. He teaches courses on the sociology of health and illness, introductory sociology, research methods, deviance, and gender, among others.