Getting the Ball Rolling: Sport and Leisure Time Physical Activity Promotion Among Individuals with Acquired Physical Disabilities
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Despite the physical health and psychosocial benefits, few individuals with acquired physical disabilities participate in sport. This manuscript-based thesis is composed of four studies that aim to provide a more nuanced understanding of the theoretical and contextual factors that influence sport participation among this population. Study 1 investigated the predictive value of the Health Action Process Approach (HAPA). The HAPA model has been used among a variety of populations; however, it has not been used to predict sport participation among adults with acquired physical disabilities nor has athletic identity been considered as a supplement to the model. Results of the structural equation model demonstrated that the modified HAPA model explained 19% of the variance in sport participation. Study 2 explored how athletic identity was lost or (re)developed after acquiring a physical disability. Eleven adults with an acquired physical disability participated in semi-structured interviews. Participants’ stories of sport pre- and post-injury fit into three distinct narratives. The non-athlete narrative focused on physical changes in the body; the other two narratives primarily focused on present sport behaviour. Study 3 explored the influence of the perceived self and disability on participation in specific types of leisure-time physical activity (LTPA), such as sport, after injury. Fourteen participants completed semi-structured life story interviews. A structural and content analysis of participant narratives revealed that beliefs about disability and comparisons to peers were influential in motivating individuals to consider some LTPA while rejecting others, such as sport. Study 4 explored peer athlete mentors’ responses to four mentee narratives. A narrative analysis of the responses revealed that peer athletes generally tailored their responses and information to the vignette’s specific view of disability. However, deeply negative and resistant narratives elicited more variant responses from the peers, including responses that accepted the resistance to those that challenged their perceptions of disability. As a whole, this dissertation enables a more nuanced understanding of the theoretical and contextual determinants of sport among individuals with acquired physical disabilities. This dissertation will better inform and identify opportunities for interventions that increase sport participation among this population.