A mixed methods exploration of how university students with physical disabilities perceive physical activity and the influence of perceptions on physical activity levels

Jennifer L. Dysterheft, Paige Lindahl-lewis, Elizabeth A. Hubbard, Olivia Jones, Laura Rice, Ian Rice, Albert Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Purpose: The purpose of this study was to investigate university students with physical disabilities’ (SWD) perceptions of physical activity (PA) and how these perceptions may influence activity levels. Methods: Using reliable and validated surveys with in-depth interviews, researchers examined the perspectives of 13 undergraduate SWD regarding PA in the context of their university environment. Four quantitative surveys were used to understand participants’ health practices (SRAHP), exercise self-efficacy (EXSE), barriers to PA (BARSE), and outcome expectations for PA (MOEES). To gather richer, exploratory data, interviews were focused on answering how do SWD perceive and define PA, and what factors influence their PA participation? Correlational analysis and independent t-tests were used to examine survey outcomes. Interviews were analyzed using thematic analysis and line-by-line coding strategies. Results: Quantitative analysis revealed correlations between all MOEES surveys, as well as the EXSE, BARSE, and SRAHP. Analysis of the surveys and interviews resulted in two primary themes and seven subthemes. The first primary theme, personal perceptions of PA, had two subthemes: Personal definitions and personal practices. The second theme, influences on PA participation, consisted of five subthemes: University assistive resources, aspects of personal well-being, symptoms and physical limitations, time and scheduling, and social inclusion. Conclusions: Results from this study helped to understand how SWD identified with PA and identified both motivations and barriers to PA unique to SWD. Data from this study can be used to improve accessibility and disability programming for SWD to promote PA.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1196809
JournalCogent Medicine
Volume3
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 31 2016

Keywords

  • physical disability
  • adapted recreation
  • college students
  • exercise

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