Addressing Nature-Deficit Disorder: A Mixed Methods Pilot Study of Young Adults Attending a Wilderness Camp
Background and Objectives. Rapid urbanization raises concern about chronic human health issues along with less frequent interaction with the natural world. “Nature-deficit disorder,” a nonclinical term, describes this potential impact on the well-being of youth. We conducted a mixed methods pilot study of young adults attending a four-week wilderness camp to investigate whether nature-based camp experiences would increase connection to nature and promote multiple dimensions of well-being. Methods. Participants completed precamp (n = 46) and postcamp (n = 36) online questionnaires including nature-related and holistic well-being measures. Differences were investigated using paired t-tests. Interviews (n = 16) explored camp experiences and social relations. Results. All nature-related measures—exposure, knowledge, skills, willingness to lead, 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 transcendence. Physical activity and psychological measures showed no change. Interviews described how the wilderness environment facilitated social connections. Conclusion. Findings illustrate the change in nature relations and well-being that wilderness camp experiences can provide. 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 environmental leaders.
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Citation : Warber, S. L., DeHudy, A.A., Bialko, M.F., Marselle, M.R., Irvine, K. N. (2015) Addressing Nature-Deficit Disorder: A Mixed Methods Pilot Study of Young Adults Attending a Wilderness Camp. Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, (2015), 651827.
Peer Reviewed : Yes