Psychological wellbeing of Turkish university students with physical impairments: an evaluation within the stress-vulnerability paradigm

Int J Psychol. 2011 Apr 1;46(2):106-18. doi: 10.1080/00207594.2010.513413.


Generally, universities in developing countries offer little in the way of provisions and support (material, emotional, etc.) for disabled students. Therefore, disabled students experience considerable burdens and barriers in their educational life. This study investigated the psychological wellbeing of disabled Turkish university students by examining influences on stress-related growth and psychological distress. Disability is defined within the framework of a social model. According to this view, impairment refers to the functional limitation(s) that affect(s) a person's body, whereas disability refers to the loss or limitation of opportunities owing to social, physical or psychological obstacles. Seventy disabled university students with physical impairments were administered a questionnaire package, including a sociodemographic information sheet, Ways of Coping Questionnaire, Stress-Related Growth Scale, Multidimensional Scale of Social Support, Life Events Inventory, and Brief Symptom Inventory. Snowball sampling was used and voluntary participation was essential. The results showed that disability burden, daily hassles, and helplessness coping were significant predictors of psychological symptoms. For stress-related growth the only variable that appeared significant was problem-solving coping. The results pointed out that there may be different pathways to distress and growth. In order to decrease psychological distress and enhance growth in disabled university students, disability awareness programs, changes in the barriers in the academic and physical environments of the university campuses, and coping skills training to increase problem-focused coping and to combat helplessness may prove to be effective. Reducing daily hassles for the disabled students is likely to contribute to their wellbeing by decreasing their burdens. Also, a more disability-friendly environment is likely to be empowering for disabled university students.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Architectural Accessibility
  • Awareness
  • Cost of Illness
  • Cross-Cultural Comparison*
  • Developing Countries*
  • Disability Evaluation
  • Disabled Persons / psychology*
  • Female
  • Helplessness, Learned
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Personality Inventory / statistics & numerical data
  • Power, Psychological
  • Problem Solving
  • Psychometrics
  • Quality of Life / psychology*
  • Stress, Psychological / complications*
  • Students / psychology*
  • Turkey / ethnology
  • Young Adult