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A Qualitative Investigation of Barriers and Facilitators to Physical Activity Opportunities for Persons with Disabilities in a Small Southern Alberta City Open Access


Other title
Small City
Interpretive Description
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Chisholm, Tara M
Supervisor and department
Spencer-Cavaliere, Nancy (Physical Education and Recreation)
Examining committee member and department
Bouffard, Marcel (Physical Education and Recreation)
McHugh, Tara-Leigh (Physical Education and Recreation)
Physical Education and Recreation

Date accepted
Graduation date
Master of Arts
Degree level
Introduction: Rarely have the barriers and facilitators of PA for persons with a disability (PwD) living in a small city been the focus of researchers, despite the emergence of studies in the last two decades about the importance of PA for PwD. Numerous studies have investigated the barriers and facilitators to PA opportunities for PwD in urban centers, however, little was known about the barriers and facilitators to PA for PwD who reside in small cities. Methods: The purpose of this study was to perform an in-depth exploration of the barriers and facilitators of PA for PwD living in a small southern Alberta city. Interpretive description was employed with 12 PwD ranging in age from 26 to 71 years old. Using a variety of data collection techniques, information about the PA experiences, as well as, the key facilitators and barriers to meaningful PA engagement for PwD were captured. Results: The conceptual claim of this study was that PwD recognized that PA was important for their overall health, but there was a lack of PA opportunities within their small city. Through increased involvement in inclusive PA, PwD felt they could become more visible within their community and help change attitudes towards PwD. Participants reported a range of barriers including: (a) accessibility issues, (b) lack of transportation (c) lack of community awareness, (d) limited programming and equipment, (e) financial cost, and (f) health concerns. The facilitators included: (a) awareness, (b) personal perspectives, (c) existing activities, and (d) supports. Conclusions: These findings added to the growing body of literature about barriers and facilitators to PA for PwD. Within the facilitators, the notion that “everybody knows everybody” appeared unique to living in a small city and highlighted how the nature of small communities can lead to a strong sense of social connectedness (McPhedran, 2011) which was critical to participants’ sense of inclusion in PA and community.
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