Date of Conferral





Human Services


Tina Jaeckle


In society, individuals tend to be socialized into roles that take on characteristics of masculine and feminine. Studies exist on the role strain experienced by heterosexual couples dealing with a life-threatening illness due to this characterization. The scholarly literature lacks studies on the understanding of roles, as well as possible role strain, in lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) couples when dealing a life-threatening illness. The purpose of this qualitative case study was to explore the role strain experiences of LGBTQ couples who are living with cancer diagnoses of a partner. Biddle's role strain theory provided the conceptual framework for this study. The study included interviewing five LGBTQ couples with a partner having a first-time diagnosis of Stage II or III cancer. Face-to-face, individual, semistructured interviews were used to collect the data, and an open coding method to analyze the data. The themes identified were the significance of fluid roles prior to cancer diagnoses, adjustment to role change, relationship since cancer diagnoses, chosen or determined roles, and society's views of roles. Finding were LGBQT couples roles were chosen or determined based on the task they enjoy or like to do instead of stereotypical view of masculine and feminine. LGBTQ couples did not report experiencing role strain related to assuming additional roles due to their partners' illness. Positive implications for social change resulted from the ability to inform healthcare providers how LGBTQ couples manage when supporting a partner diagnosed with Stage II or Stage III cancer.