Experience, nature, company, and health: exploring safety, efficacy and ethics in outdoor health services and programs


Research Team

Dr Pauline Marsh, CRH, SoHS, Healthy Landscapes Research Group

Dr Dave Kendal, GPSS, Healthy Landscapes Research Group

Dr Jacob Prehn, SoSS, Indigenous Research Fellow

Mr Ben Knowles, CRH, SHS, Healthy Landscapes Research Group


Ben Knowles – 03 8547 9555 – [email protected]

Pauline Marsh – 03 6226 6905 – [email protected]


You are invited to participate in a research study exploring the effective features and mechanisms that ensure safety, efficacy, and ethical practices of Outdoor Health services such as [insert name of service].

You are receiving this because [insert name of service] has expressed interest and agreed to participate in this research project. Your individual participation is completely voluntary.

What is the purpose of this study?

This study aims to build knowledge frameworks to help understand common and unique elements of outdoor and nature-based health interventions across their diversity in this country.

How is the study being funded?

This research project forms the substantive component for a PhD in Public Health. It is a joint project between the college of health and medicine and the college of science and engineering. There is no additional funding for this project.

Why have I been invited to participate?

You are eligible to take part in this study because you are an employee of an outdoor or nature-based intervention service/program [insert name of service].

What will I be asked to do?

NB: Most data collection for this project is now complete. The last part that we are still recruiting for is the online survey.

As part of the research ethics process we share the full project information for you here.

You, along with some of your colleagues are invited to take part in:

(Please check the options you are able to participate in)

  • An informal interview with the researchers. This will be a relaxed discussion, in the location of your choice (or by phone or video call), and last for between 60-90 minutes.
  • An online survey to gather some background information about the service or program you work in.
  • Supporting the research team to access a range of non-personal, non-sensitive organisational documentation as negotiated with the organisation.
  • Facilitating a site visit with the research team to record data about the sites used, and activities undertaken as part of the service or program. This research activity will occur as time allows and may be different for different services or programs.
  • A focus group discussion with up to eight of your colleagues to build a broader picture of the features and effective mechanisms that are included and used within the services or programs you offer. This will take approximately 60-90 minutes.
  • Invitation to review research materials and outputs at two points in time to ensure your contribution has been included in ways that you are okay with.

You can find out more about these activities here: benknowles.com.au/oh-research-project,

You or your colleagues will be invited to consider whether it is appropriate for the research team (with your support and advice) to invite clients of your service to join a separate focus group discussion. This will involve:

  • Discussion about whether it is appropriate or not to invite participants/clients of your service to join part of the research project and attend a focus group discussion.
  • If it is appropriate, support from you to distribute the invitation to clients/participants who have been recently involved or who you and your colleagues assess as appropriate (safe and stable enough) to participate.
  • If necessary, being available for clients to discuss their experience of the research process.

For detailed information about what is involved in the focus group for clients/participants, please see the participant group two information sheet here: benknowles.com.au/oh-research-project.

Are there any possible benefits from participation in this study?

There are no direct benefits, but we hope that this research will benefit all current and emerging outdoor health services. We anticipate that the knowledge produced will be a valuable resource to refine and improve existing or emerging outdoor health services and set-up practice and knowledge frameworks for quality assurance across the emerging sector.

Are there any possible risks from participation in this study?

There are no foreseeable or anticipated risks of harm from participation in this study. Beyond the inconvenience of time, you will not be asked to discuss anything that is distressing or uncomfortable for you. Face to face interviews will not take place if any party is unwell, and COVID-19 safety guidelines will be adhered to at all times.

What if I change my mind during or after the study?

You or the service you are employed by are free to withdraw without consequence anytime during the research project, up until four weeks following the interview date. After this time your interview information may have been included in the analysis and it will be difficult to separate and remove it entirely. Your details will, however, have been de-identified so you cannot be identified from your answers. We will also remove the name of the service and any specific geographic information from the collected data before analysis. We will be inviting participants to review the information they provide following the activities listed above, and again after the information for [insert name of service] has been combined. Our intent with this process is that every participant can endorse both their contribution and the collective knowledge that is generated about [insert name of service].

What will happen to the data when this study is over?

The survey, interview and focus group data will only include your name and preferred contact method. Recordings and transcripts will be stored on a University of Tasmania server for five years from the date of the project completion. This server is password-protected and only accessible to the researchers of this study. Data will be destroyed at the end of the five years.

How will the results of the study be published?

All data in this study will be made anonymous before it is included in analysis. Your data will be compared to and synthesised with data from other participating services. The results will be discussed in public forums and may be published. You will have the opportunity to review your interview transcript before the analysis occurs and contributions to focus groups. If you wish to be notified of the final results of this study, please let the researchers know at the time of interview.

What if I have questions about this study?

If you have any queries, concerns, or issues with this study, please feel free to contact Ben Knowles or Pauline Marsh on the contact details above.

This study has been approved by the University of Tasmania Human Research Ethics Committee. If you have concerns or complaints about the conduct of this study, you can contact the Executive Officer of the HREC (Tasmania) Network on (03) 6226 6254 or email [email protected]. The Executive Officer is the person nominated to receive complaints from research participants. Please quote 25013

How can I agree to be involved?

If you would like to participate please complete the consent form and survey here:

Thank you for your time