OBJECTIVE: The impact of impairment and disability on quality of life can be considerable, however advances in assistive technology can help to optimise physical and psychosocial functioning. Little is known about how impairment and subsequent adaptation influences health state perceptions, particularly amongst the general public. The aim of this pilot project was to examine student perceptions of what it would be like to live with a physical or sensory impairment, and how adaptation influences health and quality of life.
RESULTS: In total 151 undergraduate Psychology students were invited to participate in a questionnaire-based survey. Ethical approval was granted by an academic ethics committee. The survey included a range of validated outcome measures relating to illness perceptions and quality of life, including the B-IPQ, EQ-5D-3L and ICECAP-O. Surveys were divided into two parts: firstly, participants were asked to self-report their own health; and secondly participants were asked to estimate the health impacts of a range of hypothetical states of impairment. Severe adapted impairments were perceived to have less impact on health status than moderate un-adapted impairments. Hearing impairment was perceived to have the least impact on health status, whilst mobility impairment was perceived to have the largest impact on health status.