Social Connectedness of Children with Chronic Illnesses

Children diagnosed with a chronic illness, such as cancer, experience a vastly different childhood than their healthy counterparts. They may struggle with accepting that they are no longer seen as “normal”.

Photo of children with chronic illnesses (photo permission granted from parents) and design created by a patient

Moreover, some children may need to travel away from home and stay near the hospital for a long period of time during their treatment. Similarly, there are also children who must visit the hopsital multiple times a week for procedures that can take up half a day. Although these children do not necessarily live away from home during their treatment, their experiences may also leave them feeling less connected with their peers.


I wanted to first understand how children with a chronic illness stayed connected with their peers while they were hospitalized. Another goal of this work was to understand and consider how technologies could be augment current designs to better support children in helping them feel more connected with their peers, even if they were not physically always together.


  • Interviews
  • Design sessions
  • Open coding
  • Affinity analysis
  • Grounded theory


( PDF ) Leslie S. Liu, Kori Inkpen, and Wanda Pratt. 2015. “I’m Not Like My Friends”: Understanding How Children with a Chronic Illness Use Technology to Maintain Normalcy. Proceedings of the 2015 ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW 2015).