Physical Self-Concept and Physical Activity in Children with Congenital Heart Defects-Can We Point Out Differences to Healthy Children to Promote Physical Activity?

Children (Basel). 2023 Feb 28;10(3):478. doi: 10.3390/children10030478.


Objective: Children with congenital heart defects (CHD) are at high risk for cardiovascular disease in addition to their congenital disease, so it is important to motivate this group of patients to live a physically active lifestyle. A potential influencing determinant of younger children's physical performance is the physical self-concept. The objective of the present study was first to evaluate the correlation between the physical self-concept (PSC) and the participation in physical activities (PA) of a representative group of children with congenital heart disease (CHD), and second to point out differences in comparison to their healthy peer group.

Methods: Using the database of PA of the S-BAHn-Study we focused on physical self-concept assessed by the German version of the Physical Self-Description Questionnaire. We compare the obtained data of children with CHD to a representative age-matched sample of 3.385 participants of the Motorik Modul Study.

Results: N = 1.198 complete datasets could be included in the analyses. The mean age of patients was 11.6 ± 3.1 years. For the total cohort of patients with CHD and the reference group, PA correlated significantly with a positive PSC (p < 0.001). PA was significantly reduced in all groups of patients despite the severity of their heart defect (p < 0.001). Remarkably, PSC did not differ statistically significantly in patients with simple CHD from the reference collective (p > 0.24).

Conclusions: According to this representative survey, there is a clear relation between PA and PSC in the cohort of healthy children and the group of children with CHD throughout the severity of their heart defects. Although PSC did not differ in patients with simple CHD and their healthy peer group, PA was significantly reduced. This gap invites us to reflect on how we could break new ground to promote a physically active lifestyle in children with CHD regardless of the severity of their cardiac defects.

Keywords: heart defect; movement behavior; self-concept; youth.

Grants and funding

This study was supported by the non-profit organization Fördergemeinschaft Deutsche Kinderherzzentren (grant number W-B-016/2016). The Competence Network for Congenital Heart Defects received funding from the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research, grant number 01GI0601 (until 2014) and the DZHK (German Centre for Cardiovascular Research; as of 2015). Reference data from the MoMo Study: The MoMo Study is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (funding reference number: 01ER1503) within the research program ´long-term studies` in public health research.