Exploring narratives of physical activity and disability over time: A novel integrated qualitative methods approach

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Objectives:The fusion of multiple qualitative methods has the potential to provide a more multidimensional and nuanced understanding of sport and exercise participation for disabled populations. The purpose of this innovative methods paper was to illustrate the use of a longitudinal integrated methods approach to explore the storied experiences of activity-based rehabilitation (ABR) for people with spinal cord injury (SCI).Methods:A novel combination of interviews, timelining and participant observation was used with participants with SCI, and their trainers, at an ABR center in the UK. These pluralistic data sets were subject to a dialogical narrative analysis to identify: 1) the types of narratives that people drew upon to construct their stories of ABR and 2) the relationships between health, well-being and hope over time.Results:Two participants' stories were used to demonstrate how multiple data sets can help illuminate complementary and contrasting understandings of ABR. Critical reflections were also offered to highlight the rigorous and reflexive process of integration throughout the research process.Conclusions:The integration of multiple methods was successful in providing new and enriched insights of ABR that may not have been achieved through one method alone. Epistemological and theoretically informed multiple methods studies may have promise for similar psychological research projects exploring the complexity of sport and exercise experiences for disabled people. To conclude, recommendations and future directions for the use of integrated methods within sport and exercise psychology research are offered.HighlightsIntegrated methods can address complexities of physical activity participation for disabled people.Nuanced insights into relationships between health, well-being, hope and acceptance were revealed in stories over time.Interviews, timelining and observation highlighted complementary and contrasting findings.Integration stimulated critical thinking of participants' experiences and dominant narratives.Recommendations and future directions for rigorous and reflexive integrated methods research discussed.

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