Exposure to nature seems to positively effect a range of health promotion outcomes e.g. mental wellbeing, psychological function, stress and social skills and relationships (Mygind et al. 2019). Involving families in health-promotion initiatives seems to be an effective strategy to enhance children’s health and well-being, as children’s health behavior is highly influenced by the family (World Health Organization, 2007). Parents clearly influence their children’s lifestyles, and the health status of the parents is intricately linked to that of their children (Vedanthan et al., 2016). As such, health interventions that focus exclusively on the individual child might be less effective than interventions that also address the social context of the family in which children are naturally embedded. As such, family-based approaches seem to be relevant for interventions and programs that aim to improve children’s health and well-being.
Contact with nature is proposed as a health-promoting initiative that is an effective population-wide strategy (Maller, Townsend, Pryor, Brown & Leger, 2005) with the potential to heighten commitment to nature-based activities later on in life (Asah, Bengston, Westphal & Gowan, 2018). Thus, nature-based interventions for families have the potential to have lasting positive impacts on health through flow-on effects from repeated exposures to nature throughout one’s lifetime.
The aim of the evaluation of the Nature Family intervention is to contribute to our understanding of how family to family initiatives in nature promote mental and social health among families participating in the intervention and to produce knowledge of challenges and opportunities connected to implementation of family to family driven interventions such as Nature Families.
The specific goals are as follows:
- 30,000 registered participants in 2022
- 300 nature family groups nationwide in 2022
- 3,000 activities completed in 2022
The evaluation consists of three sub-studies:
- A realist enquiry of family-based interventions in nature investigating context, mechanism and health outcome configurations
- A comparative qualitative study of two interventions – The Nature Family intervention (Danish) and Nature Snakes (Swedish) focusing on challenges and opportunities connected to implementation (including document analyses and qualitative interviews)
- A mixed-method study (including surveys and interviews) of exposure to nature and self-reported health outcomes.
- The Danish Society for Nature Conservation
- Center for Children and Nature, University of Copenhagen
The project is generously funded by The Nordea Foundation