Despite the benefits of physical activity for youth with congenital heart disease (CHD), most patients are inactive. Although literature has addressed medical and psychological barriers to participation, little is known about the social barriers that youth encounter. This qualitative study explored sociocultural barriers to physical activity from the perspective of 17 youth with CHD. The main theme, “what I wish you knew,” was related to all other themes-youths’ efforts to resolve “disclosure dilemmas,” the barriers they encounter during physical education, and their struggle to understand themselves as normal. The participants’ narratives illuminate the centrality of their sociocultural world to physical activity. The findings call on researchers and educators to attend to the social and cultural environments where these youth live and play.
Fiona Moola and Caroline Fusco are with the Graduate Department of Exercise Sciences at the University of Toronto in Ontario, Canada. Joel Kirsh is a physician with the Hospital for Sick Children and The University of Toronto.