Kickstart: A Mixed Methods Analysis of a Group Activity Program for Persons with Serious Mental Illness


  • Elicia Cruz University of Tennessee Chattanooga
  • Karissa L. Peyer Department of Health and Human Performance, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
  • Bethany G. Womack Department of Social Work, School of Professional Studies, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga
  • Betsy A. Myers Department of Physical Therapy, University of Tennessee at Chattanooga



physical activity, meaningful activity, residential, occupational therapy, soccer


Introduction: The purpose of this study was to explore the social and emotional impact of participation in the Kickstart program (KS), which provides adults experiencing serious mental illness with weekly soccer-based sessions.

Methods: A mixed method approach to collecting and analyzing data was utilized. Observation and focus group data was analyzed into themes describing perceived social and emotional effects of KS attendance. Physical activity was assessed with accelerometers. Self-reported mood was measured before and after each session.

Findings: Soccer players, walkers, and inactive participants accrued 36.8 ± 10.8, 32.1 ± 15.2 and 26.4 ± 10.0 minutes of activity, respectively. All participants demonstrated improvements in mood. Caregivers noted attendees had higher energy levels and increased morale and confidence. All three groups had significant improvements in mood after KS sessions. Change in mood scores was not correlated with steps nor minutes of physical activity.

Conclusion: All participants had significant improvements in mood after a KS session. Although soccer players had statistically significantly better moods after KS than walkers and inactive participants, the differences in moods among attendees was small and may be irrespective of chosen activity. Changes in mood may be related to meaningfulness, rather than physical activity.


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