The barriers, benefits and facilitators of leisure time physical activity among people with spinal cord injury: a meta-synthesis of qualitative findings

Physical activity (PA) can have a positive impact upon health and well-being for people with spinal cord injury (SCI). Despite these benefits, people with SCI are within the most physically inactive segment of society that comprises disabled people. This original meta-synthesis of qualitative research was undertaken to explore the barriers, benefits and facilitators of leisure time physical activity (LTPA) among people with SCI. Articles published since 2000 were identified through a rigorous search of electronic databases, supported with a hand search of relevant journals and papers. In total, 64 papers were read in full, and based on inclusion criteria, 18 were relevant for review. The key themes constructed from the data were summarised, compared and synthesised. Eight interrelated concepts were identified as barriers, benefits and/or facilitators of LTPA: (i) well-being (WB); (ii) environment; (iii) physical body; (iv) body–self relationship; (v) physically active identity; (vi) knowledge; (vii) restitution narrative; (viii) perceived absences. Based on the synthesised evidence, healthcare professionals need to appreciate the relationships between the barriers, benefits and facilitators of LTPA in order to successfully promote a physically active lifestyle. Equally, a more critical attitude to PA promotion is called for in terms of possible adverse consequences.