Perceived impacts of a first wheelchair on social participation

Disabil Rehabil Assist Technol. 2012;7(1):37-44. doi: 10.3109/17483107.2011.562957. Epub 2011 Mar 29.


Purpose: To document perceived impacts in users' daily activities and social roles (social participation) following the acquisition of a first manual or powered wheelchair.

Methods: A qualitative design with a phenomenological approach was used. Semi-structured interviews were conducted. An interview guide was developed based on the 12 social participation categories in the Disability Creation Process (DCP) conceptual model as themes underlying the questions: 'What has changed in your daily life since you got your new wheelchair?' and 'What has not changed in your daily life that you thought you would do differently with your new wheelchair?'

Results and discussion: The average age of the ten participants was 64.3 years (±16.3) and 90% had received a manual wheelchair. Four main themes emerged from the detailed analysis: changes in daily activities, expectations not met, impacts on social roles and emotional changes. The participants considered the changes in daily activities to be generally positive. Expectations not met mainly related to outdoor mobility. The participants had not anticipated the impacts on social roles and emotional changes, which demonstrate the complexity of human occupation.

Conclusion: Getting a wheelchair is a major and complex event in a person's life.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Concept Formation
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Disabled Persons / psychology*
  • Disabled Persons / rehabilitation
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interview, Psychological
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mobility Limitation
  • Models, Psychological
  • Patient Satisfaction*
  • Perception*
  • Qualitative Research
  • Social Participation*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Wheelchairs*