Use of Social Comparisons in Interviews About Young Adults' Experiences of Chronic Illness

Janet Heaton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


In this article I examine how young adults used social comparisons in research interviews about their experiences of chronic illness. The interviews were originally conducted not only to provide data for academic analysis but also to generate experiential accounts for publication online as part of an Internet-based health information resource for patients, professionals, and the public wanting to learn about people’s real-life experiences of illness in the United Kingdom. Through secondary analysis of these data, I show how the young adults used various social comparisons to represent themselves and their experiences to the target audience. Two new concepts—analogues and foils—are introduced to describe how the young adults likened themselves to, and contrasted themselves with, different reference groups in their accounts. Through these and related strategies, they created positive renditions of their experiences for the audience, helping to inform and support others in the process.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)336-347
Number of pages12
JournalQualitative Health Research
Issue number3
Early online date3 Oct 2014
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2015


  • adolescents
  • youth
  • concept development
  • illness and disease
  • chronic
  • qualitative analysis
  • theory development
  • young adults
  • 3ref2021


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