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Addressing “nature-deficit disorder” : a mixed methods pilot study of young adults attending a wilderness camp

Warber, SL, DeHudy, AA, Bialko, MF, Marselle, MR and Irvine, KN 2015, 'Addressing “nature-deficit disorder” : a mixed methods pilot study of young adults attending a wilderness camp' , Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine , Article ID 651827. (In Press)

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Background and Objectives: Rapid urbanization has increased concerns about the loss of opportunity to interact with the natural world and the rise of chronic human health issues, such as obesity, depression, and cardiovascular disease. “Nature-deficit disorder” is a non-clinical term that describes this potential impact on the well-being of youth. We hypothesized that naturebased camp experiences could increase connection to nature and promote multiple dimensions of well-being. We conducted a mixed methods pilot study of young adults attending a four-week wilderness camp. Methods: Participants completed pre-camp (n=46) and post-camp (n=36) on-line questionnaires including nature-related and holistic well-being measures. Differences were investigated using paired samples t-tests. Interviews (n=16) explored the experience of camp, of being in nature, and social relations. Results: All nature-related measures - exposure, knowledge, skills, willingness to lead in nature, perceived safety, sense of place, and nature connection - significantly increased. Well-being outcomes also significantly improved, including perceived stress, relaxation, positive and negative emotions, sense of wholeness, and experience of transcendence. Physical activity level and several psychological measures showed no change. Interviews described how the wilderness environment facilitated social connections. Conclusion: Findings illustrate the change in relationship to nature that wilderness camp experiences can provide while also delineating elements of well-being influenced by such time. Results can guide future research agendas and suggest that nature-immersion experiences could address the risk of “nature-deficit disorder”, improve health, and prepare future leaders.

Item Type: Article
Schools: Schools > School of Arts & Media > Arts, Media and Communication Research Centre
Journal or Publication Title: Evidence-based Complementary and Alternative Medicine
Publisher: Hindawi Publishing Corporation
ISSN: 1741-427X
Related URLs:
Funders: University of Michigan Student Biomedical Research Program (USA)
Depositing User: WM Taylor
Date Deposited: 16 Nov 2015 16:13
Last Modified: 19 Jan 2016 14:57

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