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Perceived barriers and facilitators to physical activity for children with disability: a systematic review
  1. Nora Shields,
  2. Anneliese Jane Synnot,
  3. Megan Barr
  1. School of Physiotherapy, La Trobe University, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Dr Nora Shields, School of Physiotherapy, La Trobe University, Melbourne, VIC 3086, Australia; n.shields{at}


Aim The aim of this systematic review was to investigate the perceived barriers and facilitators to physical activity among children with disability.

Methods 10 electronic databases were searched from the earliest time available to September 2010 to identify relevant articles. Articles were included if they examined the barriers or facilitators to physical activity for children with disability and were written in English. Articles were excluded if they included children with an acute, transient or chronic medical condition, examined sedentary leisure activities, or societal participation in general. Two reviewers independently assessed the search yields, extracted the data and assessed trial quality. Data were analysed descriptively.

Results 14 articles met the inclusion criteria. Barriers included lack of knowledge and skills, the child's preferences, fear, parental behaviour, negative attitudes to disability, inadequate facilities, lack of transport, programmes and staff capacity, and cost. Facilitators included the child's desire to be active, practising skills, involvement of peers, family support, accessible facilities, proximity of location, better opportunities, skilled staff and information.

Conclusion Personal, social, environmental, and policy and programme-related barriers and facilitators influence the amount of activity children with disability undertake. The barriers to physical activity have been studied more comprehensively than the facilitators.

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  • Funding The study was funded by Victorian Health Promotion Foundation (VicHealth).

  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.