Barriers, facilitators, and access for wheelchair users: substantive and methodologic lessons from a pilot study of environmental effects.
We undertook a month-long intensive pilot study of a sample of adult wheelchair-users in Boston, Massachusetts and Durham, North Carolina, USA. The study had four objectives; to: (1) measure experiences of reaching and failing to reach specific destinations; (2) measure encounters with environmental facilitators and barriers, including both those overcome and not overcome; (3) determine the frequencies of destinations, facilitators, and barriers, and (4) test for consistency between daily reports and retrospective reports. Full participation entailed baseline and exit telephone interviews, and 28 daily telephone contacts. Participants reported reaching a wide range of destinations, most notably, banks, stores and shops, friends' and relatives' homes and health professionals' offices. There was a smaller range of destinations that they could not reach, despite trying; most notably, religious buildings, friends' and relatives' homes and work-places. They encountered an array of barriers, some of which they were able to overcome and others they could not overcome. Reported barriers included personal, interpersonal, and environmental barriers. The 25 subjects completing the study reported a wide range of human, environmental, and technologic support. In general, the consistency among daily, baseline, and exit interviews was high. This study has both substantive and methodologic implications. It suggests that efforts to facilitate social participation by wheelchair-users should focus not only on the built environment, but also on interventions in personal assistance and assistive technology, health promotion and fitness, and programs that improve civility. Methodologically, the data suggest that it is possible to make reliable measures of environmental encounters without the administrative and respondent burden associated with daily interviews.
Meyers, AR; Anderson, JJ; Miller, DR; Shipp, K; Hoenig, H
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