Original article| Volume 94, ISSUE 4, P731-736, April 2013

Self-Reported Depression and Physical Activity in Adults With Mobility Impairments

Published:November 19, 2012DOI:



      To test hypothesized associations between depression and physical activity among adults with multiple sclerosis (MS), spinal cord injury (SCI), muscular dystrophy (MD), and postpolio syndrome (PPS).


      Cross-sectional survey.


      Survey responses collected from individuals in the Washington state area (participants with SCI) and across the United States (participants with MS, MD, and PPS).


      Convenience sample of participants were surveyed (N=1676; MD, n=321; PPS, n=388; MS, n=556; SCI, n=411).


      Not applicable.

      Main Outcome Measures

      The Patient Health Questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9) assessing depressive symptoms and the International Physical Activity Questionnaire (IPAQ) and Godin Leisure Time Exercise Questionnaire (GLTEQ) assessing physical activity.


      The average age was 56 years, 64% were women, 92% were white, 86% had a high school degree or higher, and 56% walked with an assistive device or had limited self-mobility. The IPAQ and GLTEQ explained a small but statistically significant and unique amount of the variance in PHQ-9 scores in all diagnostic groups, with no significant differences in the relation by condition, age, or mobility status (IPAQ R2=.004; GLTEQ R2=.02; both P<.02).


      Both physical activity measures demonstrated a small but statistically significant association with depression in all 4 diagnostic groups. Research is needed to determine longitudinal relations and whether physical activity interventions could promote improved mood in adults with physical disabilities.


      List of abbreviations:

      BMI (body mass index), GLTEQ (Godin Leisure Time Exercise Questionnaire), IPAQ (International Physical Activity Questionnaire), MD (muscular dystrophy), MET (metabolic equivalent), MS (multiple sclerosis), PHQ-9 (Patient Health Questionnaire-9), PPS (postpolio syndrome), SCI (spinal cord injury)
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