South Australia’s first Nature Prescription Trial found that people like the idea of prescriptions for nature to increase wellbeing, but very few will sign up to the technique to improve their health. Read more about our findings.

Green Adelaide partnered with the Appleton Institute to host a trial of the internationally popular Nature Prescription program in South Australia. The program helps encourage people to spend more time outdoors connecting with nature.

SA’s trial involved 8 general practitioners (GPs) prescribing around 30 participants suffering mild to moderate diabetes, pre-diabetes, obesity, anxiety, depression or low mood to the facilitated 8 week program. It was found that interest in participating in the nature prescription technique was low, even though the wellbeing benefits were proven to be high.

Green Adelaide trial lead Dr Robyn Molsher said that the program benefits are overwhelmingly positive, with international proof that it has the potential to supplement orthodox medical treatments to enhance health and wellbeing.

“The aim of South Australia’s trial was three-fold; to determine the feasibility of the nature prescriptions program in SA, the benefits for participants, and to build local partnerships to deliver the program,” Dr Molsher said.

“It was also a good learning tool to design and run a Nature Prescription program that used flexible online and in-person sessions to connect participants with nature.

“Our study found that the concept of nature prescriptions needs to be demystified, particularly in South Australia. We need to make the technique easier to understand to attract more people to try the program to improve their health.”

The trial was designed to equip participants with the skills and motivation to connect with nature in their local green area by reducing barriers such as cost, access, as well as time and skill, and to connect participants with the environment regularly.

Dr Molsher added that although participation in the program was low, we had a lot of interest from research and environment organisations wanting to get involved.

“Our small group of 6 participants reported increased wellbeing, social connections and nature connectedness – which is a reassuring result and hopefully this finding will help encourage more people and organisations to give it a go.”

Green Adelaide’s Nature Prescription program in South Australia was a trial only. It can be used to inform the development of future programs locally, nationally and internationally. It is best to contact your local GP if you’re interested to get involved in any future Nature Prescription programs.

More than 30 people were referred by GPs to the SA trial, and 6 people registered for the program. Download a copy of the Nature Prescriptions Trial Report.

Similar formats of the Nature Prescription Program (sometimes referred to as Green Prescriptions) are widely used by health professionals in the northern hemisphere and in New Zealand.

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