A piloted Think Aloud method within an investigation of the impacts of a therapeutic green exercise project for people recovering from mental ill-health: Reflections on ethnographic utility

Christie, Mark, Cole, Fiona and Miller, Paul K. (2020) A piloted Think Aloud method within an investigation of the impacts of a therapeutic green exercise project for people recovering from mental ill-health: Reflections on ethnographic utility. Journal of Therapeutic Horticulture . Item availability may be restricted.

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Abstract

This paper considers a specific and innovative methodological approach to investigating the impacts of a particular mode of therapeutic ‘green exercise’ in enhancing the mental health and wellbeing of a group of volunteers attending a unique community-based project in a woodland setting in the North of England, UK. The paper was influenced by the distinct lack of studies embracing an ethnographic methodology in understanding the specific impacts of green exercise therapeutic interventions. Hitherto, research has largely focused upon the use of quantitative or less context-sensitive qualitative methodologies; pertinently, prior studies have typically under-emphasised the mediating and moderating influences underpinning reported positive outcomes from green exercise (Rogersen et al, 2020; Clatworthy et al, 2013; Gladwell et al, 2013; Okvat & Zutra, 2011).
The study employed ethnographic data collection including: compilation of fieldwork notes and reflective diaries, including an audio-recorded conversation between the two researchers; taking photographs of participants at work; using participants’ own photographs of the occupations they engaged with (that held specific value and meanings regarding place and connection to nature); and an embedded, innovative use of a ‘think aloud’ method, which elicits participant responses ‘in the moment’ as volunteers were working on autotelic activities within a nature-based environment, including, but not exclusively: dry-stone walling, gardening, horticulture and pond construction. Two field-based researchers, with a background in sports development and occupational therapy respectively, firstly familiarised themselves with the volunteers and the setting over a six-week pre-data collection period, in
order to gain an insider perspective regarding the social dynamics of the group, and the special ethos and cultural dynamics of the centre.
Findings suggest that such a methodological approach to investigating the impacts of a green exercise modality is not only productive, but also essential in fully appreciating the mechanisms and processes underpinning enhancements to mental health and wellbeing.

Item Type: Article
Journal / Publication Title: Journal of Therapeutic Horticulture
Publisher: American Horticultural Therapy Association
ISSN: 1088-3487
Departments: Departments > Institute of Health > Rehabilitation and Sport Science
Depositing User: Paul Miller
Date Deposited: 10 Aug 2020 08:27
Last Modified: 11 Aug 2020 05:52
URI: https://insight.cumbria.ac.uk/id/eprint/5645

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