Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management

Committee Chair/Advisor

Dr. Brandi M. Crowe

Committee Member

Dr. Stephen T. Lewis

Committee Member

Dr. Kaileigh Byrne

Committee Member

Dr. Deborah Tysor


Since 2020, the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) has impacted the lives of the general public, but healthcare workers including those that work in inpatient mental health settings have seen long-lasting impacts in their workplace. Recreational therapists (CTRSs) are among the mental healthcare workers that have been impacted by the pandemic but there is no existing research that specifically studies their lived experiences. This study used the theoretical foundations and methods of hermeneutic phenomenology in order to describe how COVID-19 has impacted CTRSs’ workplace from a safety perspective, their stress and coping, and also their supervisory duties. Seventeen participants were recruited and met criteria for the first three aims of the study and agreed to be interviewed via Zoom, and 10 participants were eligible and agreed to participate in the supervisory portion of the study. Interview transcripts were analyzed using the hermeneutic circle and a peer review was completed by two members of the research team. Safety themes identified pertained to having more responsibility, personal protective equipment, environmental changes, programmatic changes, staffing, and safety concerns. The identified stress and coping themes related to acute and chronic stress, burnout, compassion fatigue, and strengths, assets, and stress management techniques they implemented. The identified supervisory themes related to overall impact of COVID-19 on duties, role changes, staffing and environment, training, administrative trends, coping, and stress management techniques. As this is the first known study to consider the lived experiences of CTRSs in mental health during COVID-19, it is recommended that future studies be considered

Author ORCID Identifier


Available for download on Sunday, December 31, 2023