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Correlates of sport participation in adults with long-standing illness or disability
  1. Neil Heron1,2,3,
  2. Frank Kee2,3,
  3. Margaret E Cupples1,2,3,
  4. Mark A Tully2,3
  1. 1Department of General Practice and Primary Care, Queen's University Belfast, Belfast, UK
  2. 2Centre for Public Health, Queen's University Belfast, Belfast, UK
  3. 3UKCRC Centre of Excellence for Public Health (NI), Queen's University Belfast, Belfast, UK
  1. Correspondence to Dr Neil Heron; nheron02{at}


Background Little is known about why people with a long-standing illness/disability are less likely to participate in sport than others. This study aimed to identify for the first time sport participation levels and their correlates among Northern Ireland (NI) adults who report a long-standing illness/disability.

Method Using data collected in the Continuous Household Survey, an annual survey of a random sample of the NI population, during 2007–2011, we examined responses for the total sample, those with a long-term illness/disability and those with no long-term health issues. We conducted univariate binary regression analysis for the whole sample and for those with a long-standing illness or disability, using sport participation as the dependent variable, and then carried significant variables into a multivariate analysis.

Results The sample included 13 683 adults; 3550 (26%) reported a long-term illness or disability. Multivariate analysis showed that, for the total sample and for those with a long-standing illness or disability, sport participation correlated positively with being male, aged <56 years, having a household car/van, health being ‘fairly good’/‘good’ in the previous year, doing work and living in an urban location. Also, for those with a long-standing illness or disability, being single and less socioeconomically deprived correlated positively with sport participation.

Conclusions The findings suggest that more focused efforts may promote sport participation for people with a long-standing illness or disability who are female, older, not working, living rurally, married/cohabiting, socioeconomically deprived and report having had poor health in the past year. Our findings should inform public health policy and help in developing initiatives to support sport participation and reduce health inequalities.

  • Correlates
  • Sport participation
  • Long-term illness or disability
  • Health inequalities

This is an Open Access article distributed in accordance with the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt and build upon this work, for commercial use, provided the original work is properly cited. See:

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