Graduation Date


Document Type

Capstone Project

Degree Name

Master of Science in Occupational Therapy


Occupational Therapy

Program Chair

Julia Wilbarger, Ph.D., OTR/L

Faculty Advisor

Karen McCarthy, Ph.D., OTR/L


College students face a number of obstacles to achieving success in their desired areas of occupation. However, fulfilling all the responsibilities of their other roles as well may present a risk for occupational imbalances. This is typically the case when examining the lifestyles of collegiate athletes. In this qualitative study, researchers interviewed 15 Dominican University of California (DUoC) college student athletes, playing at the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Division II level to assess what environmental factors influence their quality of life (QoL). QoL was determined as the best measure seeing as how it encompasses all components of what deems an individual’s life satisfying. This research was needed seeing as how most of the existing literature studies topics like rates of drug addiction, dropouts or eating disorders amongst this population. Few studies support athletes in determining what factors enhance or deter occupational performance.

Researchers acquired participants through snowball and convenience sampling. Participants of any age, race and gender were accepted fitting the following criteria: DUoC undergraduate student status, full-time student (12 units or more) and completion of at least one full season in a NCAA Division II sport. One-on-one interviews were completed using questions influenced by the Person-Environment-Occupation (PEO) model. Researchers transcribed interviews individually and coded the transcriptions collectively using thematic analysis (Braun & Clarke, 2012). Through these interviews, four major themes were identified to impact the participants’ QoL. Common themes included the sports physical, social and emotional impacts, in-season responsibilities and sacrifices, support systems, and motivations to play.