Publication Date

Spring 2020

Advisor(s) - Committee Chair

Jennifer Mize Smith (Director), Holly Payne, and Helen Sterk

Degree Program

Department of Communication

Degree Type

Master of Arts


The purpose of this study is to understand how working women with endometriosis communicate with their superiors about their chronic health condition. An interpretative approach was taken through the use of semi-structured interviews. Data were analyzed by using a constant-comparison method of thematic coding, resulting in three themes that answered the research questions. The findings revealed that working women communicate about endometriosis with their superiors via a dialectical tension of openness and closedness. Women perceived the outcomes of disclosure positively and negatively, but the anticipated outcomes were highly prevalent. Relational closeness between superior and subordinate was a key factor in the decision to disclose. Practical implications for both superiors and subordinates dealing with illness in the workplace are provided, as well as avenues of future research, strengths, and limitations.


Health Communication | Organizational Communication