Can personal and environmental factors explain dimensions of child participation?

Child Care Health Dev. 2011 Mar;37(2):266-75. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2214.2010.01132.x.


Objective: One of the main goals of paediatric occupational therapists and other health professionals is to enhance child participation in age-related activities within their communities. According to theoretical models, the act of participation has numerous dimensions, affected by personal and environmental factors. However, there have been relatively few studies undertaken to validate this theory. The purpose of this study was to explore the extent to which personal and environmental factors explain each of five distinct dimensions of child participation, which are: diversity, intensity, independence, enjoyment and subsequent parental satisfaction.

Method: A convenient sample of 70 kindergarten children without developmental disabilities together with their parents participated in the study. Data were collected using standardized assessments for personal factors and questionnaires for environmental factors.

Results: The findings confirmed our hypothesis and revealed that with typical children, motor and cognitive abilities affect participation diversity. Moreover, performance skills and self-perceptions of competence affect their independence levels, while environmental factors contribute to frequency of participation and parental satisfaction. However, these factors on their own do not fully explain the degree of enjoyment experienced by children.

Conclusions: The findings highlight the importance of measuring the full range of participation dimensions, and provide empirical evidence about the nature of child participation. Further studies are warranted to validate this approach for children with developmental difficulties.

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living*
  • Child
  • Child Behavior*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cognition / physiology
  • Environment
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations*
  • Male
  • Models, Psychological
  • Motor Activity / physiology
  • Motor Skills / physiology
  • Psychometrics
  • Self Efficacy