"I just stay in the house so I don't need to explain": a qualitative investigation of persons with invisible disabilities

Gillian Hendry*, Claire Wilson, Mairi Orr, Rebecca Scullion

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
185 Downloads (Pure)


Research has shown that persons with disabilities continually face discrimination. More research attention has focused on individuals’ experiences of visible disability, despite evidence that there are higher numbers worldwide of people with invisible disabilities. As such, persons with invisible disabilities can feel under-represented in disability literature. A qualitative study was conducted to address this. Twenty-five persons with an invisible disability were recruited to take part in focus groups and interviews aimed at understanding the lived experience of invisible disability on social life and within the workplace. Data were analyzed using Braun and Clarke’s reflexive thematic analysis, identifying themes of (1) Incongruity between looking and feeling, (2) The impact of others, (3), Adaptation, (4) Talking about disability, (5) (Un)supported and (un)accepted, and (6) Discrimination/legislation. The findings indicate that the language, attitudes and behaviour of others are important to support inclusion in the social and working lives of those with invisible disabilities. Persons without a disability should be willing to talk about disability, see the strengths of those with an invisible disability and be mindful of language used around visibility. Suggestions relating to what we can do to be better support those with an invisible disability in society are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)145-163
Number of pages19
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 15 Mar 2022


  • invisible disabilities
  • hidden disabilities
  • invisible illness
  • social life
  • working life
  • society


Dive into the research topics of '"I just stay in the house so I don't need to explain": a qualitative investigation of persons with invisible disabilities'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this