Effects of a recreation fitness program on psychological parameters among persons with psychiatric disabilities

Concern exists nationally about the excessive mortality rates of persons with psychiatric disabilities. Comorbidity of disabilities and disabling conditions has been shown to place a disproportionately large burden on the healthcare system. An investigation was undertaken that examined the impact of a structured recreation fitness program on selected psychological parameters in a population of persons with psychiatric disabilities. Further, the research sought to investigate specific factors influencing fitness within a psychiatric population. Thirty individuals with psychiatric disabilities were randomly selected from an available population of 177 such persons and were further randomly ordered into experimental and control groups of 15 persons each in a pretest/post-test design. The experimental group received a seven-month recreation fitness program but the control group did not. The two groups, which were determined to have been equivalent in levels of activity and depression at the onset of the study, differed significantly in a therapeutically positive direction in favor of the experimental group. The effects were more pronounced in reducing levels of depression over time as assessed by the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI). Results of the study suggest there are potential benefits from integrating recreational and fitness programs into a regimen of psychiatric rehabilitation of persons with psychiatric disabilities.


American Journal of Recreation Therapy Link


  • Doug Anderson
  • Robert E. Cipriano
  • Wayne Sailor