An exploration of the value of social interaction in a boys' group for adolescents with muscular dystrophy

Helen Parkyn, John Coveney

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


Background/Aim Engagement in peer-based social activities is a normal and important aspect of adolescence. Adolescent boys with muscular dystrophy typically lack opportunities for participation in peer-based recreation and socialization activities. 'MD Mafia' is a group which aims to reduce social isolation and offer social and recreational opportunities for adolescent boys with muscular dystrophy. This research is a qualitative exploration of the value of 'MD Mafia' and seeks to answer the question: 'what does the experience of participating in "MD Mafia", a group for adolescent boys with muscular dystrophy, mean to the boys and their parents'? Methods This research sought the views of the boys who participate in MD Mafia and their parents. The sample included seven boys and four mothers. Data collection methods included creative group activities, specifically chosen to match the participants' age, interests and skills, and online data collection. The theoretical perspective of symbolic interactionism guided the theoretical analysis of the data. Results Analysis of the data provided a description of the meaning and value of 'MD Mafia' from the participants' perspective. MD Mafia has a strong collective identity, which reflects ideals of masculinity and common interests. The group provides much valued opportunity for socialization in a safe and familiar environment, but parents also felt that MD Mafia could offer greater opportunities for skill development by increasing the challenge level of the activities and social environment. The theoretical analysis provides insight into the value of social interactions between participants in a group which has had positive implications for the boys as individuals and for MD Mafia as a group. Conclusions The research supports a group model of service delivery for boys with muscular dystrophy and has implications for the development of the group into the future.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)81-89
Number of pages9
JournalChild: Care, Health and Development
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2013


  • Adolescence
  • Children's views
  • Interventions
  • Physical disabilities
  • Social relationships


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