The Meaning and Process of Engagement in Outdoor Adventure from an Occupational Science Perspective to Inform Health Promotion and Occupational Therapy Practice.
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Background: Outdoor adventure can offer meaningful occupations that enhance health and wellbeing. Theory in relation to the meaning of outdoor adventure from an occupational science perspective, and the process by which people become engaged in occupation, is underdeveloped. Methodology: Phenomenological philosophy underpinned the methodology. Five elements are presented in this thesis, data were explored from: a systematic review and meta-synthesis of research exploring the meaning of outdoor adventure; focus groups exploring factors affecting sustained engagement in walking in a community context; adventure autobiographies as exemplars of engagement and outdoor culture; and interviews with participants who engaged in outdoor adventure. Concepts arising from the findings were thematically synthesised. Findings and discussion: The meaning of outdoor adventure was associated with a sense of connection to self, others, nature, the environment, time and place. Meaning was associated with engagement that was congruent with aspirations for identity, health and wellbeing, values, and beliefs. The meaning and process of engagement in outdoor adventure were influenced by the ability to establish confidence in relation to developing social networks, physical skills and the knowledge required to participate in chosen occupations. The process of engagement in outdoor adventure was influenced by convenience and the ability to accommodate participation alongside other work and family routines, in terms of time, location and priorities. The process of engagement in outdoor adventure was influenced by context. The findings also suggest a change in the meaning of engagement in outdoor adventure over time. Conclusion: The implications of the study are that these aspects of meaning and dynamic process could be considered within health promotion and occupational therapy practice to enhance initiating, sustaining and returning to occupational engagement in outdoor adventure. Further research would be beneficial in relation to evaluating the application of these concepts in occupational therapy practice.
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