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

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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. 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. 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. 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. [Abstract copyright: © 2023 The Authors. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research published by MENCAP and International Association of the Scientific Study of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities and John Wiley & Sons Ltd.]
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Intellectual Disability Research
Publication statusPublished - 18 Sept 2023


  • adolescents
  • executive functions
  • intellectual disability
  • quality of life
  • self-determination

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