Identifying the enablers and barriers to community participation amongst older adults

Document Type

Journal Article


Sage Publications Ltd.

Place of Publication

United Kingdom


School of Medical and Health Sciences




Originally published as: Papageorgiou, N., Marquis, R., & Dare, J. (2016). Identifying the enablers and barriers to community participation amongst older adults. British Journal of Occupational Therapy, 79(12), 742-751. Available here.


Introduction The proportion of older adults throughout the world has increased significantly over the last decade and continues to rise. Such substantial growth highlights the importance of facilitating older people's wellbeing. This research aimed to identify enablers and barriers to participation in community-based activities experienced by active older adults. Method This qualitative study employed the evidence-based paradigm of occupation and Model of Human Occupation to underpin protocol and discussion. Ten participants (females = 9, males = 1) who were aged 64-83 years and actively engaged in their community took part in semi-structured interviews. Participants reported mixed health levels including chronic/terminal illnesses and normal degenerative changes. Interview transcripts were analysed using thematic analysis. Findings Analysis identified four themes of enablers and barriers to community participation. These were: relationships; interests; personal knowledge and awareness towards health and wellbeing; and resources and the environment. Conclusion Intrinsic factors such as developing or maintaining strong relationships and developing interests were identified as enabling community participation. Barriers identified within this study included unappealing group cultures or structures, such as having limited opportunity to develop friendships or explicitly targeting 'seniors aged 60+ years' and accessibility limitations. Recommendations were established to inform the development of programmes to increase community participation among this group. © The College of Occupational Therapists Ltd.