Exploring quality participation among adults with physical disabilities in a community-based exercise program: A mixed methods collective case study approach


Previous explorations of quality participation in physical activity opportunities for persons with disabilities (PWD) have yet to address whether one's perception of quality participation can change over time. Using triangulation within a mixed methods study, we sought to explore the experiences that PWD associate with their participation in a community-based exercise program (CBEP). Over one year, five individuals completed a baseline interview grounded in a life course approach, and subsequent interviews at 4-, 8-, and 12-months. Participants also completed questionnaires (a) twice weekly to capture their 'acute' quality experiences after each exercise session, and (b) at baseline, 4-, 8-, and 12-months to elicit their 'global' perceptions of quality participation. Situated within social constructionism, we (a) conducted dialogical and structural narrative analysis of interviews; (b) 'qualitized' mean scores from the quantitative measures, and (c) engaged in comparative profiling to explore similarities and differences between the two types of data, on a case-by-case basis. Five distinct narrative types represented the progression of quality participation over time, with each case drawing upon existing discourse and cultural narratives of disability (i.e., supercrip, embodiment and body-self), and participation in society (i.e., quest, restitution). The findings illustrate the immediate and latent psychosocial, emotional, and physical complexities that accompany participation in a CBEP for PWD. These unique, temporally nuanced understandings of quality participation offer insight on the highly contextualized nature of how PWD might achieve full and effective participation, and may be used to inform the development and delivery of optimal programming.

Acknowledgments: As a part of the Canadian Disability Participation Project, this research was supported by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) – Grant # 895-2013-1021. This research was also supported by a SSHRC Joseph-Armand Bombardier Canada Graduate Scholarship awarded to Kristiann Man.