The purpose of this study was to identify how healthcare clients achieve and maintain a sense of control over their health. The literature review conducted refers to: (i) key definitions of control, (ii) locus of control, and (iii) control and wellbeing. Participants with a range of acute and chronic health conditions and who had been hospitalised at some point were selected for the study. Symbolic interactionism (Blumer, 1969) and modified grounded theory of Strauss & Corbin (1998) provided the frameworks for this study. During the six month study period, data were collected from sixty participants and included interviews, participant observation, reviewing participants' records (nursing care plans, nursing notes and case histories), the nursing units' philosophy, organisational charts, policies and procedures, annual reports, consumer brochures and any other relevant information sources. Findings from the study indicated that participants moved from feeling vulnerable to having a sense of control through to being purposefully active. Vulnerability was associated with: (i) having limited choices in respect to their health, (ii) lacking adequate health information to make choices, (iii) being ignored by health providers with respect to their needs, and (iv) lacking friend/family supports. Purposefully activating was associated with three major categories: (i) reflecting, (ii) being self-determiningly involved and (iii) normalising. Findings from this study could be used by health care clients who want a sense of control over their health care, and also by health care providers who wish to support clients in the healthcare process.