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Adolescents' attitudes toward wheelchair users: a provincial survey

Arbour-Nicitopoulos, Kelly P.a; Faulkner, Guy E.a; Paglia-Boak, Angelab; Irving, Hyacinth M.b

International Journal of Rehabilitation Research: September 2010 - Volume 33 - Issue 3 - p 261-263
doi: 10.1097/MRR.0b013e328333de97
Brief research reports

The study aims were to examine (i) adolescents' attitudes towards family members who use a wheelchair in relation to other health problems and conditions, and (ii) the association between perceived wheelchair stigma and socio-demographic factors. Data were based on surveys from 2790 seventh to 12th grade students derived from the 2007 cycle of the Ontario Student Drug Use and Health Survey. Stigmatized attitudes towards a family member who required the use of a wheelchair (5.5%) were lower than those attitudes towards a family member who was addicted to drugs (68.3%), alcohol (54.9%), or gambling (53.7%), or who had mental illness (25.9%), and similar to those attitudes for a family member with asthma (2.2%). Grade level was the only significant negative correlate of the perceived wheelchair stigma. The perceived wheelchair stigma among the adolescents may not be a significant barrier towards community integration for wheelchair users.

aFaculty of Physical Education and Health, University of Toronto

bCentre for Addiction and Mental Health, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Correspondence to Dr Kelly P. Arbour-Nicitopoulos, PhD, Faculty of Physical Education and Health, University of Toronto, 55 Harbord Street, Toronto, ON, M5S 2W6, Canada

Tel: +1 416 978 2725; fax: +1 416 971 2118; e-mail:

Received 18 August 2009 Accepted 6 October 2009

© 2010 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.