The psychological benefits of Special Olympic involvement

PhD Thesis

Watts, C. 2011. The psychological benefits of Special Olympic involvement. PhD Thesis Canterbury Christ Church University Department of Applied Psychology
AuthorsWatts, C.
TypePhD Thesis
Qualification nameDClinPsychol

Section A is a review of the current literature on sports involvement with respect to people with learning disabilities. It begins by describing the health status of people with learning disabilities and provides a context of sport and wellbeing in the general population. It continues by describing four reviews of the literature exploring people with learning disabilities with respect to sports involvement. This section ends with a description of the Special Olympics research and suggests future research needs in this area.
Section B describes a quantitative cross-sectional study comparing two groups of sports active and non-active people with learning disabilities using several psychological measures.
Objectives. There is evidence that people with learning disabilities have poorer mental and physical wellbeing compared with that of the wider population. The aim of this study was to explore whether a group of people with learning disabilities involved in sport differed in terms of psychological well-being compared with a group not involved in sport.
Design. A cross sectional design was employed comparing two groups, sports active and non-active on the variables: Self-esteem, quality of life, stress levels and social networks.
Methods. Seventy four participants were recruited across South East England. They completed a number of psychological measures.
Results. Analysis revealed that self-esteem, quality of life, social networks and stress were all significantly correlated with Special Olympics involvement. A logistic regression analysis was used to explore whether scores on these variables were able to predict sport membership. Self-esteem was found to be a high predictor of group membership, those in the Special Olympics having higher self-esteem.
Conclusions. The findings provide further evidence of a positive association between sport involvement and increased psychological wellbeing. The implications of these findings for theory and future research into the relationship between sport and psychological wellbeing within the learning disabled population is considered.
Section C is a critical appraisal of the quantitative study that considers four aspects: research skills; amendments to the study if it were replicated; how the study may have influenced clinical practice; and finally, further research and methods relating to this area.

KeywordsLearning disability; Sport; Self-esteem; Stress; Social networks; Quality of life
Publication process dates
Deposited30 Nov 2011
SubmittedJul 2011
Output statusUnpublished
Accepted author manuscript
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