Health and well-being naturally: 'contact with nature' in health promotion for targeted individuals, communities and populations

Health Promot J Austr. 2006 Aug;17(2):114-23. doi: 10.1071/he06114.


Issue addressed: The increase in mental health disorders worldwide makes it important to recognise health promotion interventions that are effective, accessible and affordable. Although natural spaces are coming to be recognised as health-promoting settings for general populations, little is understood about the use of nature-contact in treatment and care for individuals experiencing ill-health.

Methods: This paper provides a summary of key research findings and presents a case study examining the self-reported health and well-being benefits of nature contact for a small clinical sample. The 'Spectrum of Interventions for Mental Health Problems and Mental Disorders' provides a conceptual framework for ordering current and future information relating to nature-based interventions.

Results: Evidence demonstrates that separately, physical activity, social connection, and contact with nature enhance human health and well-being. The case example illustrates how 'active', 'social' and 'adventurous' contact with nature may be combined within a treatment intervention to protect and enhance the health of individuals experiencing chronic mental, emotional and physical health difficulties.

Conclusions: 'Contact with nature' constitutes a health promotion strategy with potential application in prevention, early intervention, treatment and care. Recommendations include further research to investigate the benefits of nature contact within existing interventions, and the impacts of 'active' and 'social' nature contact within tailored interventions for targeted individuals and communities.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Exercise
  • Female
  • Health Promotion / methods*
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Disorders / rehabilitation
  • Mental Health
  • Nature*
  • Program Development
  • Research
  • Sample Size
  • Sampling Studies
  • Social Adjustment
  • Social Support
  • Substance-Related Disorders / rehabilitation
  • Time Factors