An exploration of the psychological benefits of Special Olympic involvement

Burns, J. and Watts, C. (2012) An exploration of the psychological benefits of Special Olympic involvement. In: British Psychological Society Annual Conference, 18th-20th April 2012, London.

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There is clear evidence that people with intellectual disabilities have poorer mental and physical wellbeing compared with that of the wider population and in the mainstream literature that involvement in sports is beneficial to both physical and psychological wellbeing. Within the world of intellectual disabilities there exists a major international organisation called the Special Olympics (SO) which aims to involve this group in sports, regardless of ability. However, there has been little evaluation of the psychological impact of this involvement. The aim of this study was to explore whether a group of people with intellectual disabilities involved in sport through the SO, differed in terms of psychological well-being compared with a group not involved in the SO.

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. Seventy four participants were recruited across South East England and completed a number of validated psychological measures.

Analysis revealed that self-esteem, quality of life, social networks and stress were all significantly correlated with the Special Olympics. 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.

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 are considered.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GV Recreation Leisure > GV0706 Sports psychology
Divisions: pre Nov-2014 > Faculty of Social and Applied Sciences > Applied Psychology
Depositing User: Prof Jan Burns
Date Deposited: 27 Jul 2012 13:44
Last Modified: 11 Dec 2014 14:10

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Last edited: 29/06/2016 12:23:00