206185 Academic Needs Assessment of College Students Diagnosed with Autoimmune Related Disabilities

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Lauren E. Boyle, MS, CHES , Department of Applied Health Science, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN
Nancy T. Ellis, HSD, MPH , Department of Applied Health Science, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN
A national, online study assessed disability-related impairments to academic success among college students diagnosed with autoimmune related diseases (1990 Americans with Disabilities Act). A 97 structured response and open-ended item instrument was developed from focus group data, jury validated and posted online (11 weeks). Participants were recruited via: 29 autoimmune disease-related websites/newsletters, Google Ads, Facebook, MySpace. Data were analyzed using descriptive statistics/thematic analysis. Ninety respondents (female 91.11%; male 8.89%) represented 31 autoimmune diseases with a range from one to six diseases per respondent. Over two-thirds (67.12%) reported being diagnosed with combinations of two or more diseases. Most prevalent were ulcerative colitis (32.89%); scleroderma (28.95%); Raynard's phenomenon (27.63%); systemic lupus (17.12%); chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis (11.84% each). Almost two-thirds (65.28%) of student respondents did not register with university disability service and 8.33% tried unsuccessfully. Disease related barriers/symptoms to academic performance included pain (60.00%), fatigue (44.00%), ataxia (33.33%), concentration (18.67%), self-esteem (13.33%), medication effects (6.67%) among others. Participants reduced flare-ups via sleep/rest (54.35%), stress control (47.83%), healthy eating (41.30%), temperature control (36.96%), exercise (32.61%), medication (28.27%). Almost half desired greater faculty awareness (48.94%) and better educated health center personnel (42.56%) regarding autoimmune disease complications/flare-ups. Also needed were better accessibility, more accommodations and equipment for their disability (29.79%). Online courses versus campus classes were desired by 21.27% of respondents. Recommendations are directed toward: student self care, university disabilities services, university health services, university registrar and professors.

Learning Objectives:
1. Enhance university faculty and staff awareness of autoimmune related disease disabilities prevalent among college students. 2. Identify needs and barriers to academic success of college students having autoimmune disease related disabilities. 3. Provide recommendations to key university personnel to improve academic success of college students diagnosed with autoimmune diseases.

Keywords: College Students, Chronic Diseases

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have an M.S. in Health Promotion; I am CHES certified; I am near completion of my PhD in Health Behavior, and I have work related experience to the research being presented.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.