Skip to content

Christine Materia

Christine Materia

The relationship between connectedness to nature and the psychological impacts of climate change?

Background

The psychological health impacts of extreme climate events such as fire, flood, cyclones and drought are well represented in the Literature (1-16). Connectedness to nature has been researched extensively over the past two decades suggesting a relationship between connectedness to nature and improved physical and psychological health(9,17-25).

Christine’s research will explore connectedness to nature and psychological health in a changing climate through the adaptation and application of best a practice research method.

Aim

The study aims to offer a theoretical model, for health and allied health practitioners, policy-makers and local government to better understand and respond to community level anxiety about climate change.

The Study Area and Participants

The Tasmanian Local Government Areas (LGAs) of Flinders, Dorset, Break O’Day, Glamorgan Spring Bay, Circular Head, Waratah-Wynyard, West Coast,  Central Highlands, Southern Midlands and Derwent Valley have been selected based on temperature and rainfall reports and maps for Tasmania produced by the Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) and the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre (ACE-CRC). These reports and maps span thirty years and include comprehensive Tasmanian local government area profiles. If you live in one of these LGAs and are a members of, or affiliated with an environment, community, indigenous, business/professional or school group or association you are eligible to participate in this study.  Participation in the study is voluntary and the study has been approved by the Tasmanian Social Science Human Research Ethics Committee (Approval No 12567).  There are three components to the study:

  1. The first will involve answering some questions that we will use to measure your connectedness to nature and relationship with nature.
  2. The second will involve you answering some questions about how you are feeling in the moment and then thinking about climate change and its effect on you and answering a further series of questions.
  3. The third will involve an interview where you will be invited to share your experiences of climate change and its impact on your health and wellbeing.

If you are interested in participating in this research please go to https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/PsychHealthClim or contact Christine Materia on 03 6226 6627, or email Christine.Materia@utas.edu.au

How

Participants will complete Mayer and Frantz’s Connectedness to Nature Scale (CNS) (26); Nisbet’s Nature Relatedness Scale (NRS) (27) and the State (STAI-S) and Trait (STAI-T) components of Spielberger’s State Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI) (28,29). Participants will be selected based on their level of connectedness to nature and degree of anxiety to continue with the study. Participants will be interviewed regarding their experiences of climate change and climate driven phenomena in their local area as well as their personal experiences of connectedness to nature and the psychological health impacts of climate change.

christine's diagram

Outcomes

A more comprehensive understanding of the factors and interactions between connectedness to nature, climate driven phenomenon; and the psychological health impacts of climate change.

References

  1. Guiney R. Farming suicides during the Victorian drought: 2001–2007. Australian Journal of Rural Health 2012;20(1):11-5.
  2. Reser, Morrissey SA, Ellul M. The threat of climate change: psychological response, adaptation, and impacts. In: Weissbecker I, editor. Climate change and human well being: global challenges and opportunities. Washington, DC: Springer; 2011. p. 19-42.
  3. McMichael AJ. Drought, drying and mental health: Lessons from recent experiences for future risk-lessening policies. Australian Journal of Rural Health 2011;19(5):227-8.
  4. Laugharne J, Watt GVd, Janca A. After the fire: the mental health consequences of fire disasters Current Opinion in Psychiatry, 2011;24(1):72-7.
  5. Hogan A, Owen J, Rickwood D, Fragar L. Climate change and farmers' mental health: risks and responses. Asia-Pacific journal of public health 2011;23(2):119S-32S.
  6. Hart CR, Berry HL, Tonna AM. Improving the mental health of rural New South Wales communities facing drought and other adversities. Australian Journal of Rural Health 2011;19:231–8.
  7. Carnie T-L, Berry HL, Blinkhorn SA, Hart CR. In their own words: Young people’s mental health in drought-affected rural and remote NSW. Australian Journal of Rural Health 2011;19:244 - 8.
  8. Bartholomeusz - Raymond N. Don’t beat about the bush! Mental health in drought affected communities Initiative. In: Rural and Remote Australia - The heart of a healthy nation, 11th National Rural Health Conference 2011 13-16 March 2011; Perth, Australia.
  9. Anderson P, Jané-llopis E. Mental health and global well-being. Health Promotion International 2011;26(suppl 1):i147-i55.
  10. Kelly BJ, Stain HJ, Coleman C, Perkins D, Fragar L, Fuller J, et al. Mental health and well-being within rural communities: The Australian Rural Mental Health Study. Australian Journal of Rural Health 2010;18(1):16-24.
  11. Berry H, Bowen K, Kjellstrom T. Climate change and mental health: a causal pathways framework. International Journal of Public Health 2010;55(2):123-32.
  12. National Rural Health Alliance. Fact Sheet 18: Mental Health in rural Australia. Alliance NRH. National Rural Health Alliance; 2009.
  13. Bryant R. The impact of natural disasters on mental health. Australian Psychological Society; 2009 [cited 2011 Oct 4, 2011];
  14. Morrissey SA, Reser JP. Natural disasters, climate change and mental health considerations for rural Australia. Australian Journal of Rural Health 2007;15(2):6.
  15. McFarlane A, Clayer JR, Bookless CL. Psychiatric morbidity following a natural disaster: An Australian bushfire. Social psychiatry and psychiatric epidemiology 1997;32(5).
  16. McMichael AJ. Global environmental change and human health: new challenges to scientist and policy-maker. J Public Health Policy 1994;15(4):407-19.
  17. Stain HJ, Kelly B, Carr VJ, Lewin TJ, Fitzgerald M, Fragar L. The psychological impact of chronic environmental adversity: Responding to prolonged drought. Social Science & Medicine 2011;73(11):1593-9.
  18. Nisbet EKL. A Nature Relatedness Intervention to Promote Happiness and Environmental Concern [NR81586 thesis]. Carleton University (Canada); 2011.
  19. Howell. Nature connectedness: associations with well being and mindfullness. Personality and individual differences 2011;51(2):166-71.
  20. Cervinka R, Röderer K, Hefler E. Are nature lovers happy? On various indicators of well-being and connectedness with nature. Journal of Health Psychology 2011.
  21. Berry HL, Butler JRA, Burgess CP, King UG, Tsey K, Cadet-James YL, et al. Mind, body, spirit: co-benefits for mental health from climate change adaptation and caring for country in remote Aboriginal Australian communities. New South Wales Public Health Bulletin 2010;21(6):139-45.
  22. Hill DL. Relationship between sense of belonging as connectedness and suicide in American Indians. Archives of Psychiatric Nursing 2009;23(1):65-74.
  23. Senior J, Townsend M. "Healthy parks, health people" and other social capital initiatives of Parks Victoria, Australia In: IUCN World Parks Congress (5th: 2003) 2003 8 - 17 Sep. 2003 Durban, South Africa.
  24. Wainer J, Chesters J. Rural mental health: neither romanticism nor despair. Australian Journal of Rural Health 2000;8(3):141-7.
  25. Feral CH. The connectedness model and optimal development: Is ecopsychology the answer to emotional well-being? The Humanistic Psychologist 1998;26(1-3):243-74.
  26. Mayer FS, Frantz CM. The connectedness to nature scale: A measure of individuals' feeling in community with nature. Journal of Environmental Psychology 2004;24(4):503-15.
  27. Nisbet EK, Zelenski JM, Murphy SA. The Nature Relatedness Scale Linking Individuals' Connection With Nature to Environmental Concern and Behaviour. Environment and Behaviour 2009;41(5):715-40.
  28. Spielberger CD, RL G, Lushene R. Manual for the State-trait Anxiety Inventory. CA Consulting Psychologists; 1970.
  29. Spielberger CD, Gorsuch RL, Lushene R, Vagg PR, Jacobs GA. Manual for the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (Form Y) Self evaluation Questionnaire. California Consulting Psychologists; 1983.