Date of Award

Fall 2015

Project Type


Program or Major


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

First Advisor

Heather Turner

Second Advisor

Michele Dillon

Third Advisor

Sharyn Potter


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 dissertation 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.