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
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Intellectual Disability Research
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 18 Sept 2023

Scopus Subject Areas

  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology

User-Defined Keywords

  • Intellectual disability
  • Executive function
  • Self-determination
  • Quality of Life
  • Adolescents


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