Quality of life and psychological affect related to sport participation in children and youth athletes with physical disabilities: A parent and athlete perspective

Deborah R. Shapiro, Ph.D.'Correspondence information about the author Ph.D. Deborah R. Shapiro, Laurie A. Malone, Ph.D.

Disability and Health Journal, Volume 9, Issue 3
Published online: December 02, 2015


Adapted sport, with its recreational, therapeutic, and competitive characteristics is increasingly serving as a forum through which to develop and maintain physical and psychological functioning, promote good health by developing a healthy lifestyle, and enhance health related quality of life (HRQoL) and life satisfaction of persons with disabilities.


This study examined the relationship between athlete and parent perceptions of health related quality of life (HRQoL) and the relationship between the athletes’ perceived HRQoL and subjective exercise evaluations.


A total of 70 youth athletes with physical disabilities (Mage = 15, SD = 2.92) and a parent completed the pediatric quality of life inventory (PedsQL). Participants also completed the subjective exercise experience scale (SEES) prior to and immediately after a sport practice.


Athletes with disabilities reported higher perceptions of HRQoL than their parents reported for them on physical (t = 4.42, p = .000), emotional (t = 2.78, p = .006) and social (t = 3.26, p = .000) functioning subscales with moderate to high effect sizes (d = .81, .51–1.30, respectively). Positive well-being subscale from the SEES was significantly related to overall HRQoL (r = .49, p = .001) and was a significant predictor (R2 = .238, F Change = 13.42 (1, 42) p = .001) of overall HRQoL.


Since parents, specifically for younger children, primarily make decisions about program and therapeutic treatments, understanding differences in perceptions of HRQoL between parent and athlete is essential to improving athlete recruitment and structuring program interventions directed at improving HRQoL and emotional well-being of children with disabilities.