Program conditions that foster quality physical activity participation experiences for people with a physical disability: a systematic review

Celina H. Shirazipour, M. Blair Evans, Jennifer Leo, Alexander Lithopoulos, Kathleen A. Martin Ginis, Amy E. Latimer-Cheung

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

44 Scopus citations


Background: Due to the numerous barriers people with a physical disability face to being physically active, emphasis in practice and research is often placed on creating opportunities for participation. As such, the quality of the experience is often ignored once an individual is participating. Purpose: An understanding of how to create quality physical activity experiences is critical to foster enjoyable and sustained participation. The aim of this systematic review was to identify intervention and/or program conditions that may foster key elements that shape quality participation (QP) experiences. Methods: In all, 24 qualitative and 6 quantitative studies met inclusion criteria. The results of the qualitative studies were synthesized using thematic analysis. Results: The synthesis identified two program conditions as important for fostering QP elements: (1) group-based programing: participating with peers can be linked to belongingness and mastery and (2) leadership: knowledgeable instructors may foster mastery and autonomy. The quantitative studies lacked variability in program conditions and QP elements, which precluded associating specific conditions with elements of a quality experience. Conclusions: Although the qualitative findings highlight two program conditions which may foster QP elements, overall, evaluations of physical activity interventions involving people with disabilities rarely include experiential aspects of participation.Implications for rehabilitation Group-based programming and leadership are two program conditions that may foster elements of quality participation. Physical activity organizers need to consider group composition. Physical activity programs should consist of peers with a disability, as appropriate, in order to promote belongingness. Physical activity programs should provide disability-specific training to leaders or seek leaders with disability-specific knowledge, in addition to physical activity knowledge and skills.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)147-155
Number of pages9
JournalDisability and Rehabilitation
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 16 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Rehabilitation


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