A Network Analysis of Youth with Physical Disabilities Attending a Therapeutic Camp


  • Shay Dawson Indiana University
  • Bryan McCormick
  • Jing Li




Pediatric, Physical Disability, Network Analysis, Therapeutic Camp, Friendship Reciprocity, Social Inoculation


Pediatric clients with physical disabilities are at-risk for psychosocial stress compared to peers without health conditions. Therapeutic camps are one program known to provide positive psychosocial outcomes yet effects tend to extinguish over time. The value of therapeutic camps in improving true reciprocal friendship opportunities while enhancing important matters discussant groups is unknown. The aim of this study was to explore the impact camp participation had on enhancing reciprocal relationships and important matters discussant group alters, test for significant differences reported by children and adolescents, and examine the distribution of reported alters within networks. An important matters discussant group name generator centered on four hierarchical role-relation prompts along with one exchange relation approach question. The name generator was administered to 76 youth with physical disabilities 8-18 years of age attending a two week residential camp. Statistically significant differences were found for adolescents seeking out non-relative peer supports in comparison to children. No difference was found in years attending camp and network composition despite 21% of the overall networks comprised of camp contacts indicating a possible social inoculation effect regardless of years attending. Distribution of important matters alters appears to be skewed toward relatives. Future implications focus on testing and improving the therapeutic camp model to address the extinguishing psychosocial effects post camp by capitalizing on the potential rapid social inoculation that may be currently confined to short term residential experiences.

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