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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2009

Meaningful activities in the forest, a way back from exhaustion and long-term sick leave

Nordh, Helena; Grahn, Patrik; Währborg, Peter


A rehabilitation project in a forest environment was carried out in a collaboration between Skogsstyrelsen (The Swedish Forest Agency), Arbetslivsresurs (a state-owned company running work rehabilitation, making individual strategy plans) and the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, SLU, Alnarp. Out of a group of 34 participants, 24 volunteered to be part of the research survey. Most of the participants had been on the sick list for a long time and suffered from depression and anxiety disorders. The interventions proceeded for 10 weeks and were held within a short distance from a smaller town in central Sweden. Three groups were set up to participate in the study: two groups during autumn 2006, followed by a short evaluation, and a third group during spring 2007. We have used a triangulation approach to evaluate the study, including both qualitative and quantitative methods. The qualitative results suggest that it was a successful project, in that most of the participants enjoyed the program and experienced a general improvement in both their physical and mental state. However, toward the end of the program they had considerable worries about the future. The quantitative results show that: Participants improved concerning symptoms of illness and general functioning, but their quality of life declined. We suggest that the decline in quality of life at the end of the intervention depended upon the participants' life situation after rehabilitation. This could be due to returning to uncertain life situations such as work, family, financial support, etc. (C) 2009 Elsevier GrnbH. All rights reserved.


Depression; Intervention study; Nature; Rehabilitation; Restorative environment

Published in

Urban Forestry and Urban Greening
2009, Volume: 8, number: 3, pages: 207-219

      SLU Authors

    • Sustainable Development Goals

      SDG11 Sustainable cities and communities

      UKÄ Subject classification

      Landscape Architecture
      Environmental Sciences related to Agriculture and Land-use
      Forest Science

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