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Keywords:

  • wheelchair;
  • mobility;
  • participation;
  • nursing home

Objectives

To explore how wheelchair-related factors, mobility, and participation are associated in a sample of long-term care residents who use wheelchairs as their primary means of mobility.

Design

Cross-sectional survey.

Setting

Eleven residential care facilities in the lower mainland of British Columbia, Canada.

Participants

One hundred forty-six self-responding residents and 118 proxy respondents: mean age 84 (range 60–103). Most were female (69%), and a small proportion (9%) drove a power wheelchair.

Measurements

The Nursing Home Life Space Diameter Assessment was used to measure resident mobility, and the Late Life Function and Disability Instrument: Disability Component was used to measure participation frequency in daily activities.

Results

Path analysis indicated that wheelchair-related factors were associated with participation frequency directly and indirectly through their relationship with mobility. The final model explained 46% of the variance in resident mobility and 53% of the variance in resident participation frequency. Wheelchair skills, which include the ability to transfer in and out of and propel a wheelchair, were important predictors of life-space mobility and frequency of participation, and life space mobility was a significant predictor of frequency of participation. Depression was associated with poorer wheelchair skills and mobility and less-frequent participation. Counterintuitively, perceived environmental barriers were positively associated with frequency of participation.

Conclusion

The findings suggest that, by addressing wheelchair-related factors, resident's mobility and participation may be improved, but the efficacy of this approach needs to be confirmed experimentally.