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A qualitative investigation of the impact that therapeutic recreational camps have on the psychological wellbeing of siblings of individuals with health conditions

Samuels, Jessica, Keenan, Joseph ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-8855-1776 and Jolly, Allan (2021) A qualitative investigation of the impact that therapeutic recreational camps have on the psychological wellbeing of siblings of individuals with health conditions. Child: Care, Health and Development. ISSN 0305-1862

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Abstract

Background: The siblings of individuals with health conditions are often overlooked, despite being at risk of experiencing psychological difficulties. There is a lack of literature investigating interventions which could promote siblings’ psychological wellbeing. Therapeutic recreational (TR) camps promote self-perception and self-worth, yet there are currently no UK studies qualitatively investigating siblings’ experiences of TR camps. Aims: This study aims to understand siblings’ lived experiences of attending TR camps, providing a greater depth of understanding of whether these camps have a positive impact on siblings’ wellbeing. Method: Due to the paucity of qualitative research regarding individuals’ experiences of TR camps, semi-structured interviews were conducted with eight individuals who had attended TR sibling camps. Verbatim transcripts were analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA). Results: Analysis revealed three superordinate themes. The first, an environment that facilitates autonomous challenge, demonstrated the importance of siblings having a place where they felt autonomous in a fun, care-free environment. This encouraged participants to engage in challenges, feeling determined to overcome them. The second, an inclusive and supportive environment, highlighted the importance of connectedness. Facing challenges and reflecting on this within a supportive team, encouraged a sense of belonging. The final superordinate theme, a transformational journey, revealed that siblings gained determination and a positive outlook to facing challenges in daily life. Additionally, they gained self-acceptance and a positive self-image, becoming more confident with, and accepting of, their identity. Conclusions: This study presents a novel contribution to the existing literature and highlights the importance of camp providers ensuring their TR model incorporates autonomous challenge, success, and reflection. These encourage positive youth development and self-determination in young people. In addition, recommendations include implementing teams, promoting positive volunteer-camper relationships, and implementing reflective sessions. These recommendations could potentially enhance the positive impact that TR camps have on siblings’ psychological wellbeing.

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