Purpose/objective: Current theories of adaptation to disability do not address differences in adaptation to congenital or acquired disability. Although people with congenital disabilities are generally assumed to be better adapted than people with acquired disabilities, few studies have tested this, and even fewer have attempted to explain the mechanisms behind these differences. This study tested the proposition that whether a disability is congenital or acquired plays an important role in the development of the disability self-concept (consisting of disability identity and disability self-efficacy), which in turn, affects satisfaction with life. It was predicted that disability self-concept would be better developed among people with congenital, compared with acquired disabilities, predicting greater satisfaction with life in those with acquired conditions.
Research method/design: 226 participants with congenital and acquired mobility disabilities completed a cross-sectional online questionnaire measuring satisfaction with life, self-esteem, disability identity, disability self-efficacy, and demographic information.
Results: Self-esteem, disability identity, disability self-efficacy, and income were significant predictors of satisfaction with life. Congenital onset predicted higher satisfaction with life; disability identity and disability self-efficacy, but not self-esteem, partially mediated the relationship.
Conclusions/implications: Findings highlight the distinction between adaptation to congenital versus acquired disability and the importance of disability self-concept, which are underresearched constructs. Results suggest that rather than attempting to "normalize" individuals with disabilities, health care professionals should foster their disability self-concept. Possible ways to improve disability self-concept are discussed, such as involvement in the disability community and disability pride.
PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2014 APA, all rights reserved.