The Effects of a Health Promotion Program Using Urban Forests and Nursing Student Mentors on the Perceived and Psychological Health of Elementary School Children in Vulnerable Populations

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2018 Sep 11;15(9):1977. doi: 10.3390/ijerph15091977.


As problems relating to children's health increase, forest therapy has been proposed as an alternative. This study examined the effects of a combined health promotion program, using urban forests and nursing student mentors, on the perceived and psychosocial health of upper-grade elementary students. The quasi-experimental study ran from June to August 2017, with 52 upper-grade elementary students from five community after-school centers. With a purposive sampling, they were assigned to either an experimental group (n = 24), who received a 10-session health promotion program, or to a control group (n = 28). Seven undergraduate nursing students participated as mentors. Running over 10 weeks, each weekly session consisted of 30 min of health education and 60 min of urban forest activities. Data were analyzed by independent t-test, Mann-Whitney U-test, paired t-test, or Wilcoxon signed rank test. General characteristics and outcome variables of both groups were homogeneous. The experimental group showed significant improvement in self-esteem (p = 0.030) and a significant decrease in depressive symptoms (p = 0.020) after the intervention, compared to the control group. These results suggest that forest healing programs may contribute to the spread of health promotion programs that make use of nature.

Keywords: forests; health promotion; mentors; school-aged children.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Cities
  • Depression
  • Female
  • Forests*
  • Health Education*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Health
  • Mentors*
  • Perception
  • Schools
  • Self Concept
  • Students, Nursing*
  • Vulnerable Populations / psychology*