Purpose: To synthesize qualitative study findings on the meaning ascribed to wheelchairs and wheeled mobility devices (WMD) by WMD users. Method: Bibliographic databases were systematically searched up to January 2015 to identify relevant papers. Reviewers selected studies, assessed methodological quality and thematically synthesized findings using a metasynthesis process described by Thomas and Harden (2008). Results: Twenty articles were included. Four descriptive themes emerged: physical environment interaction; sociocultural experiences; participation in activities and occupations; and WMD–self relationship. WMD use was found to be a complex experience that can fluctuate through interaction with aspects of the environment and opportunities for participation. The analytic theme, dynamic duality of WMD experience, addressed the simultaneous enabling and disabling aspects of WMD use. Conclusions: Metasyntheses enable researchers to gain a deeper understanding of issues by examining findings across studies. Findings of this study provide a framework for understanding the complexity of WMD use. The framework has practical applications for clinicians and users of WMD in understanding the experience of WMD to be neither singular nor static.
Disability and Rehabilitation: Assistive Technology / Vol. Article in press