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An evaluation of natural environment interventions for informal cancer caregivers in the community

Background: Home-based informal caregiving by friends and family members of patients with cancer is becoming increasingly common globally with rates continuing to rise. Such caregiving is often emotionally and cognitively demanding, resulting in mental exhaustion and high perceived burden. Support for caregivers may be fostered by engagement with the natural environment. Interaction with nature is associated with mental health benefits such as stress reduction and improved well-being. Objectives: The purpose of this paper was to evaluate the state of the science regarding the use of natural environment interventions to support caregivers of cancer patients in the community. Methods: A compre-hensive scoping review using the Arksey and O’Malley framework and the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-analyses assessed natural environment therapies and mental health outcomes among cancer caregivers. Databases searched included CINAHL, PubMed, Sco-pus, Cochrane, and Alt HealthWatch. Results: Findings recovered a total of five studies over a 10-year period that met criteria, demonstrating a lack of empirical evidence addressing this potential resource to support caregivers. Often, study appraisal was not on nature exposure, but rather other aspects of the projects such as program evaluation, exercise, or complementary therapies. Both qualitative and quantitative designs were used but sample sizes were small. Conclusions: Caregivers experienced beneficial results across the various studies and future work could enhance these findings. 

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International Journal Of Environmental Research And Public Health
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