Date of Award

5-2018

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management

Committee Member

Dr. Jasmine Townsend, Committee Chair

Committee Member

Dr. Brent L. Hawkins

Committee Member

Dr. Stephen Lewis

Abstract

Developing research, anecdotal evidence and a growing focus on non-pharmacological interventions for veterans with post-traumatic stress support the use equine-therapy as a therapeutic outlet; however, programmatic factors that contribute to veteran’s desire to attend such programs are under-investigated. Furthermore, evaluative processes in equine therapy for this particular population are scare and vary greatly from program to program. The use of the Importance-Performance Analysis (IPA) tool when applied to social services yields direct, applicable feedback of program success and relevancy. In this study, interviews with the selected population informed the evaluation tool used to assess the importance, and subsequent performance, of various program factors in a national military-specific equine therapy program. Results of this study provided insight into key factors being sought after in similar equine therapy programs to inform the development and maintenance of programs serving the veteran population. The application of the IPA, a consumer feedback tool typically reserved for market research, to the health and human services sector provided a new pathway for quality assurance and program analysis for the equine therapy field.

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