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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2017

Forest design for mental health promotion—Using perceived sensory dimensions to elicit restorative responses

Stigsdotter, Ulrika Karisson;Corazon, Sus Sola;Sidenius, Ulrik;Refshauge, Anne Dahl;Grahn, Patrik;


At present, research within health promoting environments is dominated by a focus on the difference between the urban and the natural environment. However, little knowledge exists regarding which qualities within the natural environment promote restoration.The aim of the paper is to identify which qualities and perceived sensory dimensions (PSD) of a forest environment are psychologically restorative.The research consists of 26 participants' ratings and experiences of psychological restoration in a forest environment called the Health Forest Octovia (R), which consists of eight different morns designed according to previous research on PSDs, where each room represents one of the PSDs. The participants rated the restorativeness of the rooms on a scale and they were interviewed about their experiences. The interviews were analyzed by an interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA).The results from the rating exercise show that the rooms where the PSDs serene, rich in species, refuge and nature are dominant are rated highest with regards to restoration, which supports the previous research on the subject. Further, the findings from the IPA indicate that the spatial aspects are important for the experience of restoration. An environment which includes diverse vegetation and balances enclosed dense growth with more open views is regarded as being optimal for restoration. The dense growth should have the appearance of a den and offer experiences of privacy.The results validate the potential for using the PSDs as guidelines for designing health-promoting natural environments. (C) 2016 The Author(s). Published by Elsevier B.V.


Health design; Health forest; Health-promoting environments; Interpretative phenomenological analysis; Psychological restoration

Published in

Landscape and Urban Planning

2017, volume: 160, pages: 1-15

Authors' information

K Stigsdotter, Ulrika
University of Copenhagen
Corazon, Sus Sola
University of Copenhagen
Sidenius, Ulrik
University of Copenhagen
Refshauge, Anne Dahl
University of Copenhagen

Sustainable Development Goals

SDG15 Life on land
SDG11 Sustainable cities and communities
SDG3 Good health and wellbeing

UKÄ Subject classification

Landscape Architecture

Publication Identifiers


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