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Leisure, Ageing, Culture & Mental Health Robert B. Pereira Matthew Ebden Karen Stagnitti PhD. Contents. Introduction of Topic Area Method Participants Procedure Data Analysis Results and Discussion Conclusion. Introduction. Australia’s multicultural society

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Leisure ageing culture mental health robert b pereira matthew ebden karen stagnitti phd

Leisure, Ageing, Culture & Mental HealthRobert B. PereiraMatthew EbdenKaren Stagnitti PhD


  • Introduction of Topic Area

  • Method

  • Participants

  • Procedure

  • Data Analysis

  • Results and Discussion

  • Conclusion


  • Australia’s multicultural society

  • Population predictions in the 21st century

    It is projected that Australia’s population aged65 years and over by the year 2031, will reach 5.4 million, representing 22 percent of the total population (compared with 12 percent in 1999)

    (ABS, 2002a)


  • Healthcare trends

  • What is ‘leisure’?

    “…those activities [not pertaining to work] which produce intrinsic rewards and provide the participant with life-enhancing meaning and a sense of pleasure”

    (Reid as cited in Suto, 1998, p. 274)


  • Mental health professions:

  • Psychiatry

  • Psychology

  • Mental Health Nursing

  • Social Work

  • Occupational Therapy

    (Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing, 2002)

  • Occupational therapy, leisure and mental health


  • Need for research into leisure, ageing, culture and health

  • Increasing challenges with service demand and delivery of culture-appropriate practice

    (Bonder, Martin & Miracle, 2004; Fitzgerald, Mullavey-O’Byrne & Clemson, 1997; Iwama, 2003; Watts & Carlson, 2002; Wittman & Velde, 2002)

The research question
The Research Question

“What are the subjective experiences of leisure categorised by Italian community members aged 65 and over living in the Barwon-Southwestern Region of Victoria?”


  • Qualitative research investigation

  • Phenomenological approach

    “Phenomenological research aims to elicit life experiences and their meanings through people’s perceptions and interpretations of their lives”

    (Barber, 2004; DePoy & Gitlin, 1998; Law, 1998; Stanford University, 2003)


  • Recruitment

  • How many participants?

Inclusion criteria
Inclusion Criteria

  • Aged 65 and over

  • Born in Italy

  • Living in the Barwon-Soutwestern Region ofVictoria

  • Retired and not in paid workforce

  • Independent at home, living without communitysupports (e.g. district nursing services)

  • Ambulant

  • Have English communicational skills, and

  • The participant may or may not have chronic disease or illness


  • Two methods of data collection were used in this investigation:

  • Participant observation, and

  • Semi-structured interviews

  • Instruments

Participant observation
Participant Observation

  • Periodically from March through to July, 2005

  • Visits to the club (Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays)

Participant observation1
Participant Observation

  • Building of rapport and strong personal connections with people of a culturally diverse background

Semi structured interviews
Semi-structured Interviews

  • Commenced mid-July and were completed by the end of the month

  • Participant observation ceased on last day of interviewing in July

  • Considerations made with interviewing older Italians

  • Becoming an active participant-researcher

Research considerations
Research Considerations

  • Awareness of cultural sensitivity:

  • Approaching members

  • Using the formal tense of the Italian language during dialogue

  • Gender differences

  • Researcher’s own ethnic background

Semi structured interviews1
Semi-structured Interviews

  • 30 to 45 minutes duration (approximately)

  • Four interviews were completed entirely in Italian

  • Two different private rooms were used at the club

Data analysis
Data Analysis

  • Preliminary research findings

  • Transcription

  • Thematic analysis of 3 variables:

  • Leisure activity(ies)

  • Subjective experience (meanings derived from participating in leisure)

  • Health benefit(s)


  • Forty-one relationships found between (1) leisure activity(ies), (2) subjective experience and (3) health benefit(s)

Leisure activities engaged by older italians
Leisure Activities Engaged by Older Italians

  • Leisure in general (broader concept of leisure not specifically defined)

  • Bocce

  • Socialising

  • Walking

  • Gardening

Subjective experiences
Subjective Experiences

  • Well-defined positive subjective experiences elicited from thematic analysis

  • Were directly related to the three major concepts of leisure theory:

  • ‘Intrinsic motivation’

  • ‘Freedom to suspend reality’ and

  • ‘Internal control’

  • (Bundy, 1993; Söderback & Hammarlund, 1993)

Examples of subjective experiences
Examples of Subjective Experiences

  • “[Leisure] makes you feel happy, contented” (Participants 5 & 7)

  • “I enjoy doing them (leisure activities)” (Participants 1, 4, 5, 7, & 8)

  • “[I engage in leisure activities] for fun” (Participants 1, 4, 7, & 9)

Health benefits from engaging in leisure
Health Benefits from Engaging in Leisure

  • The actual ‘doing’ component of leisure was related with living longer

  • Participants felt better when they participated in leisure activities as well as acknowledging that leisure increased their mental and physical health and strength respectively

Health benefits from engaging in leisure1
Health Benefits from Engaging in Leisure

  • Descriptions of relaxation were also found to be a major health benefit for the majority of participants. Participant 2 described such a relationship:

    “…It [leisure] relaxes you and when you enjoy doing things like that, it’s good for your health”

Health benefits from engaging in leisure2
Health Benefits from Engaging in Leisure

  • A unique finding in this investigation was found with relation to happiness, enjoyment and ‘suspension from reality’ (Bundy, 1993)

  • They are historically known as subjective experiences of leisure

  • Participants in this investigation applied these experiences in context towards health benefits in their own right

Leisure and feeling depressed
Leisure and feeling ‘Depressed’

  • Three participants linked remaining inactive at home and lying down with feeling ‘depressed’

  • They highlighted how they engaged in leisure activities to combat such feelings related to ill-health and wellbeing


  • Limitations

  • Contribution of allied health professionals in mental health

  • Integrating culturally sensitive practice techniques

  • Future directions towards guiding improved outcomes and promoting healthy lifestyles