Journal of Rehabilitation Research & Development (JRRD)

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Volume 51 Number 5, 2014
   Pages 685 — 696

Abstract — Enhancing the well-being of veterans using extended group-based nature recreation experiences

Jason Duvall, PhD;1* Rachel Kaplan, PhD2

1Program in the Environment and 2School of Natural Resources and Environment, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI

Abstract — Physical and mental health issues associated with military service persist as challenges for many veterans. This study draws on existing research showing the value of engaging in nature-based recreation to examine the effects of such experiences on veterans specifically. Four organizations, offering 12 different programs each lasting 4–7 d, were included in the study. Ninety-eight veterans were recruited and surveyed 1 wk before, 1 wk after, and approximately 1 mo after participating in these extended group-based outdoor experiences. In addition to background information, the survey instrument assessed changes in psychological well-being, social functioning, and life outlook. The results showed significant improvements in each of these domains 1 wk after the outdoor experience. Some improvements persisted over the next month, but to a lesser degree. The positive changes were particularly strong for veterans who initially reported more severe ongoing health issues. Overall, the findings suggest that extended group-based nature recreation experiences that bring veterans together can have significant positive effects on veterans struggling with serious health problems.

Key words: attentional functioning, mental health, mood, nature, outdoor recreation, quality of life, social functioning, survey research, well-being, wilderness.


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Last Reviewed or Updated  Tuesday, August 26, 2014 1:27 PM

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