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The experience of landscape : Mental health benefits of lakeshore settings

Click to view the dissertation via Digital dissertation consortium
Author Bentley, Andrew Garth.
ISBN/ISSN 9781267664310
Broad Subject Health Sciences Education
Physiology
Summary The capability of natural outdoor settings to provide human mental health benefits is gaining attention from the medical community, urban planners, and parks and recreation managers at both local and national levels. Attention Restoration Theory suggests that spending time in natural settings helps to restore human cognitive capacity, and related studies have found an associated improvement in emotional state and feelings of well-being. Using an on-site written questionnaire, 301 randomly selected visitors were sampled from eight recreation sites (73% response rate), at Lake Roosevelt National Recreation Area, Washington, to measure perceived changes in mental health associated with lakeshore visits. Lake Roosevelt has more than 1.5 million visitors per year and consists of a large reservoir in a rural area. Visitors completed the Perceived Restorativeness Scale based on Attention Restoration Theory, a place attachment scale, and a suite of previously developed mental health measures (e.g., Zuckerman's Inventory of Personal Reactions, the Subjective Vitality Scale, and the Restorative Outcomes Scale). Additional questions asked about perceived level of development and naturalness at the lakeshore sites, and Experience Use History questions. These measures were used to test the hypotheses that ART setting qualities mediated the relationship between level of site development and mental healthstate, and separately that the relationship between use frequency and mental health was mediated by place attachment. Then the overall effects of these predictors on the mental health factors of Alertness,Negative Emotions, and Happiness were analyzed using multiple regressions. Though the extent of recreational development varied widely at the sample sites, including a marina, boat launches, day use picnic areas, and primitive sites, visitors found all the sites highly natural. There were statistically significant improvements in mental health scores related to feelings of Alertness and Happiness at all sites, even after controlling for pre-visit psychological state. Both place attachment and certain restorative setting qualities (notably Fascination/Coherence) made significant contributions toward explaining the variance in mental health scores. These results represent a quantitative foundation for future management and protection of parks and recreation areas.
Language English
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