The Effects of “VelaMente?!” Project on Social Functioning of People With Severe Psychosocial Disabilities

Federica Sancassiani1, *, Stefano Lorrai1, Giulia Cossu1, Alessio Cocco1, Giuseppina Trincas2, Francesca Floris1, Gisa Mellino1, Sergio Machado3, 4, Antonio Egidio Nardi3, Elisabetta Pascolo Fabrici, Antonio Preti1, 2, Mauro Giovanni Carta1, 2
1 Department of Medical Sciences and Public Health, University of Cagliari, Cagliari, Italy.
2 Center of Liaison Psychiatry and Psychosomatic, University Hospital, Cagliari, Italy.
3 Laboratory of Panic and Respiration, Institute of Psychiatry of Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (IPUB/UFRJ), Rio de Janeiro, RJ, Brazil
4 Physical Activity Neuroscience, Physical Activity Sciences Postgraduate Program - Salgado de Oliveira University, Niterói, Brazil

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Creative Commons License
© 2017 Sancassiani et al.

open-access license: This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International Public License (CC-BY 4.0), a copy of which is available at: This license permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the Department of Medical Science and Public Health, University of Cagliari, SS554, 09042 Monserrato (Cagliari), Italy; Tel: +39 349 3119215; E-mail

* “Techniques for the Psychiatric Rehabilitation” Degree Course, University of Trieste, Italy.



Physical activity helps to improve several clinical outcomes of people with severe psychosocial disabilities. The aims of this study were; 1) to assess the efficacy of a psychosocial rehabilitative intervention focused on sailing in a crew on: a) social functioning; b) severity of the psychosocial disability; c) general functioning; d) dysregulation of biorhythms of people with severe psychosocial disabilities, and 2) to evaluate the attenders’ satisfaction about the project.


A randomized waitlist controlled trial with parallel groups was carried out involving 51 people with severe psychosocial disabilities. The intervention was a 3 months-lasting course to learn sailing in a crew. Just after the randomization, a group began the sailing course and the other group (wait list) attended the sailing course after 3 months of treatments as usual. Before and after the sailing course, as well as the waiting list period, all attenders were assessed by HoNOS, GAF, CGI-S and BRIAN. At the end of the sailing course, they completed also a self-report satisfaction questionnaire.


Social functioning significantly improved after the sailing course (HoNOS total score “time X group”: p=0.011), mainly because of the improvement of psychopathological symptoms (HoNOS symptoms score “time X group”: p=0.003). Furthermore, participants greatly appreciated the rehabilitative program based on sailing in a crew.


When compared to more traditional rehabilitative activities that are usually carried out in mental health services, a psychosocial rehabilitative intervention based on sailing in a crew significantly improve the social functioning of people with severe psychosocial disabilities.

Keywords: Sailing, Sport, Physical activity, Personal recovery, Psychosocial rehabilitation, Social functioning, Stigma.