Measuring sports participation decisional conflict in youth with cardiac pacemakers and/or ICDs


T.A. Beery: e-mail:


beery t.a., smith c.r., kudel i. & knilans t. (2011) Measuring sports participation decisional conflict in youth with cardiac pacemakers and/or ICDs. Journal of Advanced Nursing67(4), 821–828.


Aims.  We examined the Decisional Conflict Scale to determine if it would be useful to measure conflict around sports participation decision-making in youth with cardiac pacemakers and/or implantable cardioverter defibrillators.

Background.  Sports participation decisions made by parents and youth with implanted cardiac devices can have profound implications. Contact sports can result in damage to the device and leads, but the value of exercise is well documented and restriction from a cherished activity can increase resistance and distress in the young. The extent of this problem is unknown.

Methods.  An explanatory mixed methods design was used with a convenience sample (N = 35) of youth aged 12–21 (Mean = 16·5; sd = 3) years awaiting services at an electrophysiology clinic. Data were collected between 2007 and 2008. The Decisional Conflict Scale is a self-report measure, used worldwide in adult populations. Analyses and interviews determined the properties of the measure and whether the instrument captured conflict.

Results.  The scale showed strong internal consistency (Cronbach alpha = 0·87). Overall scores were low (Mean = 17·31; sd = 10·99; range = 0–37). There was no statistically significant difference (P > 0·05) in total scores between boys (n = 25) and girls (n = 10) using independent t-tests. Qualitative analysis documented conflict and non-adherence to clinician recommendation despite low scores.

Conclusions.  Analyses indicate that youth aged 12–21 years understand and can effectively complete the Decisional Conflict Scale, but this instrument alone did not capture all conflict. These results can guide study of the extent of this problem and eventual development of an intervention to support sports participation decision-making.