Psychosocial and biological outcomes of immersive, mindfulness-based treks in nature for groups of young adults and caregivers affected by cancer: Results from a single arm program evaluation from 2016–2021

David Victorson*, Gretchen Doninger, Scott Victorson, Gwen Victorson, Lars Hall, Carly Maletich, Bradley R. Corr, Kathy Scortino, Zachary Burns, Lori Allen, Ian Rosa, Kelley Quirk, Adekunle Adegbemi, Johanna Strokoff, Kile Zuidema, Kelle Sajdak, Todd McKibben, Angie Roberts, Thomas W. McDade, Amanda BoesKatie McAlinden, Karen Arredondo, Christina Sauer, Kristin Smith, John M. Salsman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations

Abstract

The COVID-19 pandemic has left many individuals suffering from “connection deficit disorder” given changes to the way we work, go to school, socialize, and engage in daily activities. Young adults affected by cancer between the ages of 18–39 have known this connection deficit long before the pandemic. Being diagnosed and treated for cancer during this time can significantly disrupt engagement in important educational, career, social, and reproductive pursuits, and contribute to increased stress, anxiety, depression, and other negative outcomes. Experiencing meaningful connection—with nature, with peers who understand, and with oneself, may help assuage this adverse effect of disconnect. A single arm within-subjects program evaluation was conducted to examine outcomes following participation in immersive, multi-night, mindfulness-based treks in nature in a sample of young adults (n = 157) and caregivers (n = 50) affected by cancer from 2016–2021. Pre to post-trek changes included significant (p < 0.001) self-reported improvements in feeling connected to nature (d = 0.93–0.95), peers (d = 1.1–1.3), and oneself (d = 0.57–1.5); significant (p < 0.001) improvements on PROMIS Anxiety (d = 0.62–0.78), Depression (d = 0.87–0.89), and Sleep Disturbance (d = 0.37–0.48) short forms; and significant (p < 0.05) changes in pro-inflammatory biomarkers (d = 0.55–0.82). Connection-promoting experiences like this have the potential to improve health and wellbeing in this population and serve as a model for others.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number12622
JournalInternational journal of environmental research and public health
Volume18
Issue number23
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2021

Keywords

  • Cancer
  • Caregiver
  • Connection
  • Mindfulness
  • Nature
  • Peers
  • Young adult

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Pollution
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

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