Shared Meanings of Success, Happiness, and Health Among Adults with Cerebral Palsy and Physiotherapists: Implications for Practice and Research

Mary E. Gannotti, University of Hartford
Yvette Blanchard, Sacred Heart University
Lisa Blumberg, University of Hartford
Diana J. LaRocco, University of Hartford

Published online Jan 25, 2018


Purpose: To describe shared meanings of success, happiness, and health of adults with cerebral palsy and physiotherapists.

Materials and methods: Ethnography employed open ended/semi-structured interviews and structured questionnaires (Satisfaction with Life Scale, Beck Depression Inventory-II®, Oxford Happiness Questionnaire, Life Habits Questionnaire, Medical Outcomes Study-Social Support Survey, and PROMIS®Pain Interference Scale). Content analysis of qualitative data and principal components analysis of questionnaire responses identified shared meanings.

Results: Fourteen adults with cerebral palsy and 15 physiotherapists (median age 46) had similar levels of education. For both groups, social achievements, personal goals, employment, and supporting a family defined success. Adults with cerebral palsy more frequently identified tenacity and persistence as important for success. Both groups described happiness as spending time with loved ones, recreational activities, and having purpose in life. Adults with cerebral palsy identified the importance of self-acceptance for happiness. For both, health included self-care of mind/spirit, cardiovascular and musculoskeletal wellness, and physical fitness (the ability to perform physical tasks). Analysis of questionnaire responses identified shared meanings (eigenvalue 41, 95% explained variance).

Conclusions: Adults with cerebral palsy and physiotherapists share similar experiences, behaviors, and feelings about success, happiness, and health. This knowledge may improve communication, enhance evidence-based practice, and foster services to support wellbeing of adults with cerebral palsy.