The associations among executive planning, self-determination, and quality of life in adolescents with intellectual disability

M. Lui*, G. K. B. Lau, P. K. S. Wong

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review


Background: Skills such as planning and problem solving that are required in self-determination can be cognitively demanding. It has not yet been examined whether executive functions and intelligence are associated with levels of self-determination in individuals with intellectual disability (ID), and how that is related to quality of life (QoL). This study examined the associations among executive functions, intelligence, self-determination, and QoL in adolescents with ID.

Methods: Seventy-nine adolescents aged between 17 and 20 years with mild ID participated in the study. Executive functions were assessed by experimental tasks. Non-verbal IQ and survey data regarding QoL and self-determination capacity were collected from the participants.

Results: In a regression model with QoL as the dependent variable, only executive planning and self-determination capacity (but not working memory, inhibition and IQ) were significant predictors of QoL. Two mediation models were tested based on the hypotheses, literature and current findings. Model 1 revealed that executive planning had a negative direct effect on QoL when the mediator, self-determination capacity, was held constant. Model 2 indicated that the significant association between self-determination and QoL was not mediated by executive planning.

Conclusions: The findings highlighted the crucial significance of self-determination, in comparison with executive functions and intelligence, for improving the QoL in adolescents with ID. Importantly, higher executive planning skill was even associated with lower QoL if self-determination was not concurrently strengthened. These findings carry implications for the design of education and intervention programmes aimed at improving QoL of adolescents with ID.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)53-63
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Intellectual Disability Research
Issue number1
Early online date18 Sept 2023
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2024

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Rehabilitation

User-Defined Keywords

  • Adolescents
  • Executive functions
  • Intellectual disability
  • Quality of life
  • Self-determination


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