Using the WWW to Study the Experiences of Persons who Use Wheelchairs: Local Area Versus Distant ParticipantsBy Burning, M.E., PhD; Proceedings of the RESNA 25th International Conference, Vol. 22, No. 1, pp. 227-229
Publication Date: June/July 2002
Study designed to quantify the effects of exposure to WheelchairNet on consumers’ self-rating of readiness to participate in wheelchair decision-making. A literature review supported the idea that adult decision-making is influenced by an individual’s locus of control, their personal goals, knowledge of options, and desire for options that support goal achievement. The literature was used to develop several instruments in a larger study with four hypotheses. This paper shares the findings of one of the hypotheses that had implications for assistive technology researchers. The hypothesis stated: “There will be no difference between participants who use wheelchairs and have access to the Internet living in the local area and those geographically dispersed across the United States as measured by study pre and posttest scores. Scores on measures of health locus of control, life goals, self-assessed knowledge, desire for device characteristics, and readiness to participate will be compared.” Seventy-one volunteers met admission criteria and competed the study. All of the participants completed study instruments by logging on to Web page forms related to a database that collected and stored search item responses. The experimental group used a clone of WheelchairNet for six weeks; the control group used the Web but was asked to refrain from searching the Web on wheelchair-related topics. Web use was tracked, and the results suggested that including participants from broad geographical distributions contributed greatly to normalizing the distribution of characteristics in a study sample when comparing attitudes, beliefs, preferences, and expectations.
Published by: Rehabilitation Engineering & Assistive Technology Society of North America (RESNA) (Website:http://www.resna.org)