Transformational mentoring involving adults with a spinal cord injury


It is estimated that there are 86,000 individuals living with spinal cord injury (SCI) in Canada (Farry & Baxter, 2010). The provincial affiliates of Spinal Cord Injury Canada provide peer mentorship programming for individuals living with spinal cord injury, matching newly injured individuals with others living with SCI. These mentorship programs are designed to help newly injured individuals successfully overcome new challenges related to SCI, including being physically active.  Drawing from transformational leadership theory (Bass & Riggio, 2006), the purpose of this study was to examine mentees’ perceptions of transformational mentoring within two provincial (Ontario, British Columbia) spinal cord injury peer mentoring programs, and the effects of these behaviours on mentees’ psychological states and engagement. Semi-structured interviews with 15 individuals with SCI examined perceptions of their peer mentors’ behaviours, and the effects of these behaviours on mentees. Interviews were transcribed verbatim and subject to conventional content analysis, in which a combination of deductive and inductive analytic procedures were used to organize the data into themes related to the behaviours utilized by mentors, as well as themes related to the reported psychological and behavioural responses of mentees. Findings revealed that behaviors displayed by peer mentors can be understood within a transformational leadership framework, as all four dimensions of transformational leadership were implicated, to some extent, in the psychological or behavioural functioning of mentees.  Participants who perceived their mentors to utilize transformational leadership behaviors reported increases in motivation, hope, comfort/acceptance, self-efficacy, overall well-being/happiness, relatedness, redefining their limitations, and greater engagement in health enhancing behaviours (e.g., physical activity). Implications for the application of transformational mentoring to motivate individuals with SCI to engage in physical activity and other health promoting behaviours are considered.

Acknowledgments: Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council