Shared meanings of success, happiness, and health among adults with cerebral palsy and physiotherapists: implications for practice and research

Disabil Rehabil. 2019 Jun;41(11):1321-1330. doi: 10.1080/09638288.2018.1425488. Epub 2018 Jan 25.


Purpose: To describe shared meanings of success, happiness, and health of adults with cerebral palsy and physiotherapists.

Materials and methods: Ethnography employed open ended/semi-structured interviews and structured questionnaires (Satisfaction with Life Scale, Beck Depression Inventory-II®, Oxford Happiness Questionnaire, Life Habits Questionnaire, Medical Outcomes Study-Social Support Survey, and PROMIS® Pain Interference Scale). Content analysis of qualitative data and principal components analysis of questionnaire responses identified shared meanings.

Results: Fourteen adults with cerebral palsy and 15 physiotherapists (median age 46) had similar levels of education. For both groups, social achievements, personal goals, employment, and supporting a family defined success. Adults with cerebral palsy more frequently identified tenacity and persistence as important for success. Both groups described happiness as spending time with loved ones, recreational activities, and having purpose in life. Adults with cerebral palsy identified the importance of self-acceptance for happiness. For both, health included self-care of mind/spirit, cardiovascular and musculoskeletal wellness, and physical fitness (the ability to perform physical tasks). Analysis of questionnaire responses identified shared meanings (eigenvalue 41, 95% explained variance).

Conclusions: Adults with cerebral palsy and physiotherapists share similar experiences, behaviors, and feelings about success, happiness, and health. This knowledge may improve communication, enhance evidence-based practice, and foster services to support wellbeing. Implications for rehabilitation Cerebral palsy is a life-long condition, but we know little about social and physical outcomes for adults with cerebral palsy. Lack of understanding about meanings of success, happiness, and health may be a barrier for consumers accessing and for providers delivering evidence-based services. Physiotherapists and adults with cerebral palsy share similar meanings (feelings, experiences, beliefs, behaviors) of success, happiness, and health- or wellbeing. Knowledge of this common ground may result in improved communication between providers and consumers, and foster more relevant and meaningful services to support the wellbeing of adults with cerebral palsy.

Keywords: Adulthood; ethnography; life satisfaction; quality of life; wellbeing.

MeSH terms

  • Cerebral Palsy* / psychology
  • Cerebral Palsy* / rehabilitation
  • Diagnostic Self Evaluation*
  • Female
  • Happiness*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Health / standards
  • Middle Aged
  • Physical Therapists / psychology*
  • Physical Therapy Modalities / standards
  • Professional-Patient Relations*
  • Quality Improvement
  • Quality of Life*
  • Social Values*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires