Purpose: This study was done to evaluate the effects of a recreation therapy program on burn rehabilitation patients to determine if the program is an effective nursing intervention which can affect mental health problems and heart rate variability. Methods: Subjects were 54 hospitalized burn rehabilitation patients (25 in the control group, 29 in the experimental group). The experimental group participated 6 times in a recreation therapy program led by a qualified instructor. Brief symptoms inventory-18 (somatization, anxiety, depression) questionnaire, and heart rate variability were checked before and after the recreation therapy program. Results: The mental health scale showed significant differences in somatization (p<.001), anxiety (p<.001) and depression (p<.001). There was no significant difference in heart rate variability (autonomic activity, autonomic balance, stress resistance, stress parameter and fatigue, mean heart rate, electro-cardiac stability). Conclusion: The findings from this study suggest that a recreation therapy program is an effective nursing intervention to decrease the level of mental health problems of burn rehabilitation patients. However, a subsequent study is needed to develop an intervention program that will induce the effect of physiological parameters like heart rate variability (HRV).
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