We used survey data to examine the associations of recent health symptomatology and illness perceptions with work volition among 129 college students who had chronic health conditions. Recent health symptomatology and illness perceptions were both negatively related to work volition. Whereas illness perceptions had incremental validity over recent health symptomatology in the prediction of work volition, recent health symptomatology did not add significantly to the explained variance beyond illness perceptions. Assessing illness perceptions provides a more complete understanding of the potential impact of health conditions on students' work volition than does recent health symptomatology alone, and counselors are advised to help clients modify illness perceptions if they are based on inaccurate information.
Keywords: work volition, health symptomatology, illness perceptions, college students, psychology of working theory
Approximately 11% of college students have chronic health or psychiatric conditions (American College Health Association, 2013). Such conditions have been linked to lower educational and occupational goals and attainments (van der Wei, 2016). Compared with their peers without chronic illnesses, students with chronic illnesses have lower college graduation rates (Mojtabai et al., 2015), have a greater discrepancy between their real and ideal career aspirations, and are less satisfied with their majors (Bouchard & Nauta, 2018).
The link between health conditions and students' educational and career-related outcomes may be indirect. Consistent with the psychology of working theory (Duffy, Blustein, et al., 2016), a recent study (Bouchard & Nauta, 2018) indicated that health was positively related to work volition, defined as the sense of freedom to choose among many career options (Duffy, Douglass, et al., 2016). Furthermore, work volition mediated associations between college students' health and several career-related outcomes, including persistence intentions, major satisfaction, real-ideal career discrepancy, and leadership aspirations. Work volition also relates to career decision self-efficacy (Jadidian & Duffy, 2012).
Career support services are an important part of addressing challenges that students with chronic illnesses face. Given the finding that it mediates the associations between health and important outcomes, work volition may be a promising intervention point for counselors. Nonetheless, it would be useful to verify and expand upon Bouchard and Nauta's (2018) finding of a link between health and work volition because theirs is the only known study that has examined the health-work volition link.
Bouchard and Nauta (2018) operationalized health on the basis of recent symptomatology using a measure commonly used by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in its national health surveys. However, it may be useful to examine the association between health and work volition more comprehensively. Some health conditions are expected to worsen or improve over time, whereas others have an unpredictable course. People hold illness perceptions (Levanthal & Diefenbach, 1991) based on their cognitive appraisals of the likely course of their conditions. Symptomatology and illness perceptions are positively correlated, but they are conceptually and empirically distinct constructs (De Gucht, 2015).
In the current study, we assessed both recent health symptomatology and illness perceptions to examine their associations with work volition among college students who had a...