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Date Permissions Signed
Date of Award
Master of Science (MS)
Health and Human Development
Russell, Keith C., 1968-
Interventions that utilize peer mentors to aid in altering the physical activity behaviors and attitudes of individuals have grown in popularity (Mellanby, Rees, & Tripp, 2000). While the mentees’ experiences in such programs have been studied extensively, there is little research that explores the experiences of the mentors. The Western Wellcat program is a peer-led physical activity intervention designed to improve the mental and physical well-being of students with clinical depression and anxiety (Keeler, 2015). In the Western Wellcat program peer mentors serve as supportive, reliable, and knowledgeable exercise partners for their peers (Keeler, 2015). The purpose of this study was to qualitatively investigate the experiences of peer mentors in the Western Wellcat program. Participants included eight former Western Wellcat peer mentors, who participated in the program in 2015 and 2016. Using semi-structured interviews with open-ended questions, the researcher explored the peer mentors’ motivations to sign up, their expectations for the program, the ways in which the program influenced them, and solicited suggestions they had for program improvement. Inductive coding revealed multiple themes in each area of exploration. The 13 themes that emerged from the peer mentors’ experiences were all related to their personal growth, interpersonal awareness, and professional development. Regarding the peer mentors’ overall experiences, deductive analysis was also performed based on the three basic human psychological needs of the self-determination theory: autonomy, competence, and relatedness (Ryan & Deci, 2000). Based on the emerged themes, the self-determination theory adequately explained the peer mentors’ experiences in the Western Wellcat program.
Western Washington University
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Leenstra, Taylor R., "A Qualitative Investigation of the Peer Mentor Experience in a Physical Activity Intervention for Mental Health" (2017). WWU Graduate School Collection. 567.