Sailing for Rehabilitation of Patients with Severe Mental Disorders: Results of a Cross Over Randomized Controlled Trial

Mauro G Carta 1, *, Federica Maggiani 1, Laura Pilutzu 1, Maria F Moro 1, Gioia Mura 1, Federica Cadoni 1, Federica Sancassiani 1, Marcello Vellante 1, Sergio Machado 2, Antonio Preti 1
1 Department of Public Health and Clinical and Molecular Medicine University of Cagliari and Centro di Psichiatria di Consulenza e Psicosomatica AUOC Cagliari, Cagliari, Italy
2 Institute de Psychiatry of Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (IPUB/UFRJ)

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© Carta et al.; Licensee Bentham Open.

open-access license: This is an open access article licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted, non-commercial use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the work is properly cited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Centro di Psichiatria di Consulenza e Psicosomatica AUOC Cagliari and University of Cagliari, Italy; Tel: + 335 499994; Fax: +39 070 6093498; E-mail:


This study set out to evaluate the effectiveness of a sailing and learning-to-sail rehabilitation protocol in a sample of patients diagnosed with severe mental disorders. The study was a randomized, crossover, waiting-list controlled trial, following recruitment in the Departments of Mental Health of South Sardinia. Participants were outpatients diagnosed with severe mental disorders, recruited through announcements to the directors of the Departments of Mental Health of South Sardinia. Out of the 40 patients enrolled in the study, those exposed to rehabilitation with sailing during a series of guided and supervised sea expeditions near the beach of Cagliari (Sardinia), where the aim to explore the marine environment while sailing was emphasized, showed a statistically significant improvement of their clinical status (measured by BPRS) and, as well, of their general functioning (measured by HoNOS Scale) against the control group. The improvement was maintained at follow-up for some months only: after 12 months, the patients returned to their baseline values on the measures of psychopathology and showed a worsening trend of their quality of life. Sailing can represent a substitute of important experiences that the patients with severe mental disorders miss because of their illness.

Keywords: Bipolar disorder, quality of life, rehabilitation, sailing, Schizophrenia. .