Objective. Effects of a 6-day snow skiing trip on 14 adolescents with limb deficiencies were explored. The purpose was to determine whether components of mastery and self-esteem could be identified.

Method. Participant observation data collection methods included videotape, interviews, daily progress notes by ski instructors, and a 1-month posttrip questionnaire. Data were analyzed for evidence of efficiency, effectiveness, and satisfaction to self and others (properties of relative mastery described in occupational adaptation.) Skier reports of positive effects were analyzed for indications of an impact on self-esteem. Three occupational therapists who have extensive experience working with adolescents also reviewed videotapes and written information.

Results. The therapists acknowledged the presence of skill mastery as an important component of skiers’ positive self-evaluation. They also commented that evidence of preexisting self-esteem and social aspects of the trip were as likely to produce positive effects as mastery of skiing.

Conclusion. Research method considerations (use of participant observation for hypothesis testing) preclude definitive interpretation of a link between skill mastery and self-esteem. Short-term positive effects of the skiing experience reported by questionnaire were present 1 month after the trip. Long-term effects should be studied.

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