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An Exploratory Study of Adaptive Scuba Diving’s Effects on Psychological Well-Being among Military Veterans

Ethan Blumhorst, Shintaro Kono, Jasmine Cave


Because many military veterans face mental health issues, it is important to research and practice alternative treatments including therapeutic recreation. The purpose of this study was to examine the effects of a single 45-minute adaptive scuba diving session on veterans’ psychological well-being, specifically state-level mindfulness (Brown & Ryan, 2003) and contentment (Taylor, 2015). A one-group pretest-posttest evaluation was conducted with 28 veteran divers. Of them, 16 had mental health issues (e.g., posttraumatic stress disorder), while 11 had physical impairments (e.g., spinal cord injuries). Statistical results indicated that the post-dive mindfulness and contentment levels were significantly higher than their pre-dive counterparts (p = .007 and < .001, respectively). Moreover, the changes in mindfulness through scuba diving were positively correlated with the changes in contentment. The significant increases in mindfulness were present only among veterans with mental or physical health issues. These findings are discussed in relation to the literature on scuba diving, therapeutic recreation, mindfulness, and contentment.

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adaptive scuba diving; contentment; mental health; military veterans; mindfulness

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