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Community Needs Analysis for a Physical Activity Program for People with Functional Limitations

This needs analysis aimed to fathom the challenges and requirements of individuals with chronic illnesses and functional limitations in relation to a physical activity program.

Community Needs Analysis for a Physical Activity Program for People with Functional Limitations


The burden of functional disability with chronic illnesses in the United Kingdom (UK) is a significant public health concern. Chronic illnesses, such as cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, respiratory conditions, musculoskeletal disorders, and mental health disorders, can often lead to functional limitations that affect individuals' ability to perform daily activities and participate fully in society. Common functional limitations include mobility impairments, difficulties with self-care tasks, limitations in performing household activities, reduced ability to work, and social participation restrictions. These limitations can result in increased dependency on caregivers, reduced employment opportunities, financial strain, and decreased mental health and social connections.

Functional disabilities resulting from chronic illnesses can lead to social inequalities and disparities. Individuals with functional limitations may face barriers in accessing education, employment opportunities, transportation, housing, and recreational activities. The lack of inclusive environments, accessibility, and social support further exacerbate the challenges faced by individuals with chronic illnesses and functional disabilities.

Physical activity plays a crucial role in maintaining and improving overall health, but individuals with chronic illnesses often face limitations and challenges in engaging in regular exercise. The limitations experienced by individuals with multiple chronic conditions can negatively impact their overall health and well-being. It is crucial to develop individualized exercise programs that consider the complex nature of multimorbidity in chronic illnesses.

Assessment Process

This needs analysis aimed to fathom the challenges and requirements of individuals with chronic illnesses and functional limitations in relation to a physical activity program. In order to develop a program that is inclusive, efficient, and tailored to the unique needs of this population, the assessment uncovered their unique needs and obstacles. By conducting this evaluation, we aim to design a program that promotes the physical health, functional improvement, and quality of life of individuals with functional limitations.

The primary objective of this need assessment is to collect pertinent data to support the creation of a physical activity program for individuals with functional limitations. The evaluation focused on identifying the participant's needs, preferences, and participation barriers, as well as any specific requirements for accommodations or modifications.
We developed unique survey questions for community group participants with functional limitations due to chronic conditions. Participants were asked about their current physical activity levels, perceived barriers, and specific limitations. We evaluated the specific functional limitations encountered by the target population, including difficulties with movement, balance, fatigue, psychological, and cognitive issues. In addition, we inquired about their preferences regarding individual or group activities, community-based programs, and home-based programs.

Key Findings

Most participants responded had wo or more clinical condition (79%), with associated generalized pain and fatigues (62%). Majority does try to keep regular walk (35%), Yoga (64%), gym or strength training (18%) and other dance or movement exercises (22%). But that if often interrupted by symptoms aggravations, fatigue, pain, weather, hospital or physician’s appointments, social and family commitments.

We identified the perceived barriers that prevent individuals from engaging in physical activity. Fatigue, pain, and symptoms related to their health conditions (86%) identifying a program that is inclusive of their health issues (67%), lack of ability due to ongoing treatment (59%) mobility restrictions (73%) financial limitations (55%) time constraints (48%) and inadequate interpersonal support (38%) are the most frequently cited barriers. Most participants are receptive to the concept of a community- and home-based, specially designed physical activity program for individuals with long-term illnesses that is accessible and inclusive of people with varying functional limitations.

Keeping options in exercise, physical activity, and yoga, virtual group to community support groups, providing counselling support to behavioral therapies to help overcome long-term fear, anxiety, and worry related to symptom flare-ups, and/or personalized guidelines to be considered when supporting people with functional limitations due to long-term illnesses.

Conclusion and Way forward ​

Aarogyam UK will shortly develop a comprehensive physical activity regimen that takes into consideration the specific needs and preferences of individuals with functional limitations, based on the information provided. To ensure that the program is comprehensive, supported by evidence, and effectively meets the identified needs, it will be administered by trained and certified specialists in long-term disorders and individuals with first-hand knowledge.

To enable individuals with functional limitations to engage in regular exercise, improve their functional abilities, and enhance their overall health, community based supported physical activity program is required which focus on challenges and limitation of people with long term illnesses. The assessment results served as a guide for program development, ensuring that it is tailored to the specific needs, preferences, and obstacles faced by this population, while fostering inclusivity, safety, and sustainability.

© Aarogyam Online Health Community, Aarogyam (UK) CIC

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