Purpose: The study aims to explore factors that influence (facilitate or impede) direct support professionals supporting people with intellectual disabilities in engaging in physical activity. Influencing factors will be synthesized into a conceptual model to set the stage for developing future interventions and policies to change direct support professional behavior.
Method: Based on the Theoretical Domains Framework, semi-structured interviews were conducted with 25 direct support professionals of people with mild to profound intellectual disabilities. Influencing factors were analyzed using both inductive and deductive coding strategies. The theoretical sources of behavior (i.e., capability, opportunity, and motivation) were leading components in the development of a conceptual model.
Results: Five influential factors facilitating or impeding physical-activity support were isolated that related to direct support professionals’ capability, eight to the opportunities afforded them, and 11 to their motivation. Another six inductively emerged, which related to the characteristics of people with intellectual disabilities and which then influenced the capability, opportunity, or motivation to engage in physical-activity support by direct support professionals.
Conclusions: Although experiences differed, the conceptual model developed here provides theoretically based targets for a comprehensive approach to changing direct support professional behavior and thus promoting the support of physical activity in people with intellectual disabilities.