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Spinal Cord. 2012 Dec;50(12):908-14. doi: 10.1038/sc.2012.77. Epub 2012 Jul 3.

Self-perceived participation among adults with spinal cord injury: a grounded theory study.

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  • 1Department of Occupational Therapy, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.



A grounded theory study of 19 adults with spinal cord injury was conducted. Participants engaged in individual in-depth interviews, and took photographs of aspects of their environment that promoted and restricted participation. Analysis consisted of an inductive process of constant comparison. A focus group with participants was held to discuss and contribute to the credibility of findings.


To develop a theoretical understanding of the influences on self-perceived participation for individuals with SCI.


Manitoba, Canada.


The constructed grounded theory model is summarized as follows: negotiating the body-environment interface is a continuous process for those living with a SCI. Despite the relative stability of their changed body, they live in a changed world, one that is perceived differently after SCI. People use various strategies to interact within their environment, to engage in a process of participation. Intervening conditions are the environmental aspects that serve as barriers or facilitators to this process of participation.


Study findings lend support to the need for a self-perceived definition of participation. The theory constructed in this study can be used to target interventions intended to improve the participation experiences of individuals with SCI.

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