"On-the-ground" strategy matrix for fostering quality participation among persons with disabilities in community-based exercise programs


Recent advances in the literature suggest what contributing factors to target when optimizing quality (i.e., positive subjective) experiences for persons with disabilities in community-based exercise programs: six elements (autonomy, belongingness, challenge, engagement, mastery, meaning), validation, and three conditions (physical environment, social environment, characteristics of the activity). A preliminary strategy list exists for how program providers can foster quality experiences in such programs; however, it is theoretically and practically limited. This study aims to (1) refine a preliminary strategy list to ensure resonance and applicability within community-based exercise programs for persons with disabilities, and (2) identify theoretical links between strategies and the contributing factors for quality participation. To address purpose one, drawing on recent published syntheses, strategies were added to the preliminary list. Next, using a modified Delphi procedure, a re-categorization and revision process was conducted. Providers from six and nine community-based exercise programs serving persons with physical and intellectual disabilities, respectively, were then asked to identify the strategies used within their programs. To address purpose two, 22 researchers with expertise in physical and/or intellectual disability, physical activity, participation and/or health behaviour change theory completed a closed-sort task to theoretically link each strategy to the contributing factors for quality participation. The resulting list of 86 strategies is presented in a matrix. Each strategy has explicit examples and proposed theoretical links to contributing factors of quality participation. The resulting matrix offers a menu of strategies that can be practically implemented "on-the-ground" by providers who offer community-based exercise programs to persons with disabilities.

Acknowledgments: This study was funded by a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Partnership Grant awarded to Kathleen Martin Ginis.