Date of Award

8-2018

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management

Committee Member

Dr. Marieke Van Puymbroeck, Committee Chair

Committee Member

Dr. Jasmine N. Townsend

Committee Member

Dr. Sandra M. Linder

Committee Member

Dr. Arlene A. Schmid

Abstract

An informal caregiver (ICG) is an individual who provides unpaid care to a person with a disease or disability. The psychological and physical well-being for care recipients are positively impacted by the ICG, but an ICG's psychological and physical well-being are often negatively impacted as a result of providing informal care. Yoga may be one therapeutic intervention for ICGs to improve psychological and physical well-being. A mixed methods concurrent design was utilized to examine select psychological and physical impacts for ICGs after participating in a therapeutic yoga intervention. After the 8-week intervention, participants (n = 8) experienced a statistically significant reduction in depression, burden, and negative affect. Additionally, ICGs experienced a significant reduction in pain interference and significant improvements in upper-body strength, aerobic endurance, and upper-body flexibility. Five qualitative categories (i.e. psychological improvements, functional improvements, yoga engagement, social support, and self-care) emerged from the focus group/individual interviews. Mixing the quantitative and qualitative data strengthened several results. For example, upper-body flexibility significantly improved for ICGs after the 8-week yoga intervention and during the focus group/individual interviews, ICGs discussed noticeable improvement in terms of flexibility. Interestingly, the leisure constraint questionnaire revealed more constraints after the 8-weeks of yoga, but all of the participants in the focus group/individual interviews had future plans to engage in yoga. Future studies should consider replicating this yoga program for ICGs to add to the small number of findings from yoga and caregiving studies and specifically examine pain interference. Yoga may be a possible leisure activity for ICGs to consider. Studies involving ICGs who participate in yoga may experience health improvements, but due to the small number of studies involving ICGs, feasibility aspects need to be further addressed to adapt programs which are accommodating to ICGs. ICGs attended an eight-week therapeutic yoga program that examined feasibility components utilizing multi-method research design. While the overall study design appeared to be feasible, three qualitative categories (i.e. programmatic aspects, safety concerns, and care recipient separation) emerged from the focus group/individual interviews as areas to focus on in the future. Implications for future research and recreational therapy practice are included.

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