Perceptions of physical activity in a group of adolescents with cystic fibrosis

Cardiopulm Phys Ther J. 2008 Dec;19(4):107-13.


Background: Participation in regular physical activity is routinely recommended for adolescents with cystic fibrosis (CF), however, past research suggests that many patients are not regularly physically active. There may be a variety of reasons for this inconsistent participation. In this study, we used qualitative methods to explore attitudes toward physical activity with a focus on identifying facilitators and barriers in a small group of adolescents with CF.

Methods: Ten participants with CF aged 13-17 volunteered for this study. Two, open-ended semi-structured telephone interviews were conducted. Participants were questioned about their current and past physical activity participation, their feelings about physical activity, and factors that made them want to be physically active or not. Participants were also questioned about their perceptions of physical activity for themselves and other adolescents with CF. Initial interviews were recorded, transcribed, and coded into categories. During a follow-up interview, 3 to 4 weeks later, participants were reminded of their initial responses and allowed to elaborate or clarify their initial responses. All responses were categorized and became major themes describing facilitators and barriers to exercise.

Results: All participants articulated understanding the importance of participating in physical activity for health benefits. Factors that served as facilitators to participation in physical activity included improving general or lung-specific health, as well as mental health. Barriers included general discomfort, increased lung symptoms, and disinterest.

Conclusions: A group of adolescents with CF perceived positive general and lung health effects of physical activity, but also perceived barriers to participating in regular physical activity. Further work is needed to determine ways to accentuate facilitators and decrease barriers to promote regular physical activity in adolescents with CF.