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Playing With a Purpose: The Impact of Therapeutic Recreation During Hospitalization. J Pediatr Hematol Oncol Nurs 2022 Jan-Feb;39(1):6-14



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Background: Youth undergoing cancer treatment and hematopoietic stem cell transplant (HSCT) spend significant time in the hospital, which is disruptive to their physical, social, and emotional development. Therapeutic recreation (TR) can help individuals with an illness maintain or improve their health, quality of life, and physical functioning. TR is an understudied intervention, particularly with youth in the hospital setting. Methods: Forty-nine children (median age = 12 years, interquartile range [IQR] 11-15 years) hospitalized for cancer treatment or HSCT were assigned to participate in either the historical control or TR intervention. Participants wore a Fitbit charge HR for three days to measure movement. At the end of the study participation, they completed self-report measures of mood, social connectedness, and health-related quality of life. Results: Compared with historical controls, the TR intervention group had improved positive affect and decreased mood disturbance (p = 0.03); had better sleep quality (p = 0.003); and was more satisfied with the leisure activities offered in the hospital (p = 0.01). There were no differences in the number of steps taken per day, somatic distress, cooperation with cares, or interaction with medical personnel or caregivers. Both groups reported poor availability and support of peer companions. Discussion: TR is one avenue to increase leisure activities and positively impact mood. More thought needs to be given to how TR programs can be leveraged to increase physical activity and social connectedness.

Author List

Hoag JA, Bingen K, Karst J, Palou A, Yan K, Zhang J


Kristin M. Bingen PhD Professor in the Pediatrics department at Medical College of Wisconsin

MESH terms used to index this publication - Major topics in bold

Leisure Activities
Quality of Life
Recreation Therapy