Dissertations and Theses @ UNI


Open Access Dissertation


Hurricane Katrina, 2005--Psychological aspects--Case studies; Post-traumatic stress disorder in adolescence--Louisiana--New Orleans--Prevention--Case studies; Leisure--Louisiana--New Orleans--Psychological aspects--Case studies;


The late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries have witnessed more than their share of cataclysmic events, both natural and human-made. Most notable is Hurricane Katrina, a category 5 storm that ravaged the coasts of Louisiana and Mississippi. The infamous history of Hurricane Katrina's devastation stems from a couple of factors. First, the death toll reached what, for Americans, was a shockingly high figure of 1,577 people. Second, and more socially and politically relevant, was the federal government's mismanagement of the crisis.

The purpose of this study was to examine the role of leisure services available to adolescents following the traumatic events of Hurricane Katrina. As such, this study was based on a three-phase, mix-methods approach. First, 100 adults who were adolescents during Hurricane Katrina filled out a structured questionnaire derived from the criteria enumerated for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) listed in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual IV-TR (DSM-IV-TR) in order to make an informal assessment of the level of stress these adolescents/youths experienced during and after the events of Hurricane Katrina. Sixty-one percent of the participants taking the survey met criteria for a diagnosis of PTSD similar to the criteria required for such a diagnosis by the DSM-IV. Second, 10 interviews were conducted with adults who were adolescents during the event of Hurricane Katrina and had reported high levels of stress, in order to investigate if leisure was helpful as a coping method during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The most salient themes included: (1) leisure as a coping mechanism before and after Hurricane Katrina; (2) diversity of leisure in dealing with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina; and (3) importance of family and coping together. Third, three interviews were conducted with three different directors of youth-serving leisure agencies (New Orleans Recreation Department, Boys and Girls Club in New Orleans, youth services of Second Mt. Bethel Baptist Church in New Orleans) to investigate if leisure services helped adolescents cope with the traumatic aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The most salient themes included: (1) implementation of new programs since Hurricane Katrina; (2) help rebuilding communities and centers; (3) creating partnerships in youth/leisure programming; and (4) preventative steps in the aftermath.

In short, this study outlined participants who experienced stress associated with Hurricane Katrina and were likely to suffer from PTSD and it found that leisure experiences and services can be used as a healthy coping strategy during highly stressful events. Future research can be built on this study in different ways. More in-depth interviews could be used to gain greater insights into how leisure experiences can facilitate coping and greater mental health. Likewise, future research can be directed on greater understanding of leisure constraints during times of natural disaster and if current leisure constraints strategies are even useful during a time of natural disaster.

Year of Submission


Degree Name

Doctor of Education


School of Health, Physical Education, and Leisure Services

First Advisor

Rodney Dieser, Chair

Date Original


Object Description

1 PDF file (x, 176 pages)



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