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Therapeutic Recreation Models of Practice: A Synthesis of Key Elements and Examination of Children's Narratives of a Camp Experience for Evidence of These Elements

Ciarán Joseph Jennings, Suzanne Guerin


Therapeutic recreation (TR) camping programs have emerged as a popular form of psychosocial intervention for individuals affected by chronic illness. The present study aimed to develop a synthesized representation of the key elements proposed within TR models of practice and to explore the narratives of children, who have attended a TR program for children with chronic illness and their siblings, for evidence of these elements. A review of three prominent models: the Leisure Ability Model, the Health Protection/Health Promotion Model, and the TR Service Delivery and TR Outcome Models, highlighted 20 key elements, which were delineated into the categories of targets, processes, and outcomes. Semi-structured qualitative interviews were conducted with 9 children (age range: 7-14 years, M=10.11, SD=2.15), who had participated in a TR camping program at Barretstown in Ireland. The findings of a deductive analysis showed a high level of corroboration for the key elements within the synthesized model and provides some preliminary empirical support for the constructs underlying the practice-based theory of TR. Future research directions included further exploration of the theoretical and empirical contexts which underlie TR, and investigation of potential differences in the TR experience of children who are ill, and physically healthy siblings.

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