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Physical activity participation among persons with disabilities

Barriers and facilitators

      Abstract

      Background

      The purpose of this study was to identify various barriers and facilitators associated with participation in fitness and recreation programs/facilities among persons with disabilities.

      Methods

      Focus groups were conducted in ten regions across the United States in 2001 to 2002 with four types of participants: (1) consumers with disabilities, (2) architects, (3) fitness and recreation professionals, and (4) city planners and park district managers. Sessions were tape-recorded and content analyzed; focus group facilitators took notes of identified barriers and facilitators to access.

      Results

      Content analysis of tape recordings revealed 178 barriers and 130 facilitators. The following themes were identified: (1) barriers and facilitators related to the built and natural environment; (2) economic issues; (3) emotional and psychological barriers; (4) equipment barriers; (5) barriers related to the use and interpretation of guidelines, codes, regulations, and laws; (6) information-related barriers; (7) professional knowledge, education, and training issues; (8) perceptions and attitudes of persons who are not disabled, including professionals; (9) policies and procedures both at the facility and community level; and (10) availability of resources.

      Conclusions

      The degree of participation in physical activity among people with disabilities is affected by a multifactorial set of barriers and facilitators that are unique to this population. Future research should utilize this information to develop intervention strategies that have a greater likelihood of success.
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