Participation of adolescents with and without physical disabilities and chronic diseases: A comprehensive conceptualization

Marie Bernard, Laura Hoffmann, Matthias Richter, Carina Völlm, Astrid Fink, Britta Dawal

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: In 2001, the International Classification of Functioning and Disability (ICF) introduced participation as a main goal of rehabilitation processes. However, to date, a comprehensive concept of participation in the rehabilitative context is missing, particularly in German-speaking countries. We thus aimed to refine and extend the existing concepts of participation in this brief communication. Methods: In preceding studies, we conducted semi-structured interviews with adolescents who either had chronic diseases and/or physical disabilities or had no impairments and focus groups with parents and experts. Based on these diverse perspectives and findings, we refine the term participation. Results: Participation is a construct that is embedded in a social context and consists of objective (i.e., attendance) and subjective (i.e., satisfaction and involvement) dimensions. These dimensions are reflected in different domains and areas that are relevant to adolescents' lives. In addition, the subjective relevance of respective areas in life needs to be regarded as a weighing component when evaluating participation. Conclusion: Our results reflect international models on participation, refine the existing concept, and underline the multidimensional character of participation. These findings are urgently needed to develop appropriate instruments, for example, for assessing whether rehabilitative processes are effective regarding the goal of participation.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere13240
JournalChild: Care, Health and Development
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 2024
Externally publishedYes


  • adolescents
  • disabilities
  • participation
  • rehabilitation


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