Date of Conferral







Dr. Matthew Bryant Howren


The impacts of chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS) are far reaching, resulting in many burdens in the individual lives of CFS patients. One notable challenge lies in the inability to participate in the workforce due to associated physical, mental, and emotional symptoms. Previous research indicates that alternative employment options may help to overcome work related barriers presented with various types of chronic illness. Entrepreneurship is one path to working that offers many benefits, including autonomy, flexibility of work schedule, choice of work environment, and control. Questions though remain as to whether entrepreneurship enhances QOL or exacerbates symptoms among individuals with CFS. This interpretive descriptive study investigated the lived experiences of individuals diagnosed with CFS who have pursued a path of entrepreneurship. A semistructured interview was used to gather the 12 participants' descriptions of their history of living with CFS while working as entrepreneurs. The interviews were coded and analyzed to extract overarching themes. Results included the ways in which participants were transformed as a result of having CFS, their experiences of living with CFS and being self-employed, and the interpersonal factors that arose in connection with these experiences. This study served to shed light on the challenges involved in being self-employed while living with CFS, how being self-employed affected participants' quality of life both positively and negatively, and how participants interpret these changes. The findings of this study have the potential to set the stage for future qualitative and quantitative research that would provide more support in terms of tangible action when it comes to employment options for individuals living with CFS.