"There's nothing I can't do--I just put my mind to anything and I can do it": a qualitative analysis of how children with chronic disease and their parents account for and manage physical activity

BMC Pediatr. 2009 Jan 1;9:1. doi: 10.1186/1471-2431-9-1.


Background: This paper reports the findings of a South Australian qualitative, exploratory study of children and young people living with a chronic disease, and their perceptions and experiences of physical activity. The perceptions and experiences of their parents were also explored. The chronic diseases were type 1 diabetes, asthma and cystic fibrosis.

Methods: Multiple qualitative data collection techniques were used to elicit the children and young people's perspectives and experiences of physical activity, including focus groups, maps, photos and 'traffic light posters'. The children's parents were interviewed separately to ascertain their views of their child's participation in physical activities.

Results: Children and young people described their active participation in a wide variety of physical activities including organised sports and play, but made very little mention of any negative influence or impact due to their disease. Their parents' stories described the diligent background planning and management undertaken to enable their child to participate in a wide range of physical activities.

Conclusion: The results of this study suggest that for these children and young people, having a chronic disease was not perceived as a barrier to participation in organised sport and recreational activities. They were physically active and perceived themselves to be no different from their peers. Their positive beliefs were shared by their parents and the level of participation described was enabled by the high level of parental support and background planning involved in managing their child's health care needs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Asthma / psychology
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Chronic Disease
  • Cystic Fibrosis / psychology
  • Data Collection / methods
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / psychology
  • Exercise / physiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Parents / psychology*
  • Patients / psychology*
  • Play and Playthings / psychology
  • Self Concept
  • South Australia
  • Sports / physiology
  • Sports / psychology
  • Surveys and Questionnaires