Comparative studies evaluating the effectiveness of programs promoting the development of life skills for participants aged 12 to 21 years and with a primary diagnosis of physical disability were eligible for inclusion. Physical disability included both acquired and congenital disabilities affecting functional ability. Definitions for life skills and physical disabilities were derived from those of the World Health Organisation (details reported) and those of the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health. Included studies had to report at least one quantifiable outcome measure.
Interventions were multi-component and included problem solving, experiential learning, personal relationships, role play, positive reinforcement, peer-based mentorship and occupational and independent living skills. Settings included classroom, community, residential or wilderness settings. Duration of programmes varied from two weeks to five months. Comparison groups included young people who did not participate in programme or waiting list control; pre-post intervention comparisons were also included. Mean age ranged from 14 to 19 years. Participants had cranio-facial disfigurements, visual impairments, chronic illness or a mixture of physical disabilities (details reported). A variety of assessment scales were used; further details were reported. Some studies also reported qualitative data provided by parents or program leaders. All the included studies were conducted in the USA or Canada.
Two reviewers independently selected studies from full papers and resolved disagreements through discussion. Three reviewers reviewed the final list of included studies.