Document Type


Date of Degree

Summer 2014

Degree Name

PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)

Degree In

Rehabilitation and Counselor Education

First Advisor

Wadsworth, John S

First Committee Member

Portman, Tarrell Awe Agahe

Second Committee Member

Estrada, Noel

Third Committee Member

Ansley, Timothy

Fourth Committee Member

Ries, Pamela


Scholars generally agree that having social relationships provides an individual with a sense of psychological well-being. A solid social network can be critical in times of hardship, such as loss or chronic illness. When referring to social networking, the site, Facebook, will be used. In addition, students with disabilities are often stigmatized for their difference from other students and need the support from their perceived networks to maintain psychological well-being. Although much has been written about the relationship between electronic social networking and an individual's well-being, few studies investigated the relationship between disability, social networking and self-esteem. The purpose of this quantitative study was to explore the relationship between disability, Facebook usage and the self-esteem/well-being of University of Iowa (UI) REACH students. Participants included students with a documented disability (n=56) currently or formerly enrolled in the UI REACH program (a 2-year post-secondary program for students with intellectual and cognitive disabilities).

The results of the descriptive correlational analysis, Analysis of Variance (ANOVA), and the linear regression found one major and one supplemental finding. First, the results indicated that there was not a significant relationship in the amount of Facebook friends UI REACH students had and their reported level of self-esteem. Second, the results of the study indicated that UI REACH students who spent more time on Facebook reported lower self-esteem. Hence, this result was found to be significant. Third, the results indicated that there was not a significant correlation between the overall Facebook Intensity Scale score and self-esteem. In addition, gender was examined by testing the interaction between Facebook Intensity to see if it had a unique effect on self-esteem/well-being. Age was examined alongside gender and Facebook Intensity Scale score to test their independent effects on self-esteem/well-being.

The implications of this study are also discussed, since they can benefit post-secondary educators and rehabilitation counseling professionals develop interventions to increase the well-being of students with intellectual and/or cognitive disabilities in transitional programs.

Keywords: disability, Facebook, social networking, well-being, self-esteem, UI REACH students


disability, Facebook, self-esteem, UI REACH, well-being


xiii, 85 pages


Includes bibliographical references (pages 73-85).


Copyright 2014 Candis Lashel Hill