University of Oulu

Lipponen M, Hallikainen V, Kilpeläinen P. Effects of Nature-Based Intervention in Occupational Health Care on Stress – A Finnish Pilot Study Comparing Stress Evaluation Methods. J Multidiscip Healthc. 2022;15:577-593,

Effects of nature-based intervention in occupational health care on stress : a Finnish pilot study comparing stress evaluation methods

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Author: Lipponen, Maija1; Hallikainen, Ville2; Kilpeläinen, Pekka3
Organizations: 1Unit of Bioeconomy and Environment, Natural Resources Institute Finland, Paltamo, Finland
2Natural Resources, Natural Resources Institute Finland, Rovaniemi, Finland
3Unit of Measurement Technology, Kajaani University Consortium, University of Oulu, Kajaani, Finland
Format: article
Version: published version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 2.2 MB)
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Language: English
Published: Dove Medical Press, 2022
Publish Date: 2022-04-26


Purpose: To assess methodology and its limitations for measuring effects of nature-based intervention (NBI).

Patients and Methods: Participants were 11 middle-aged female health care workers with lowered capacity to work. NBI included six group appointments in six months study period. Heart rate variability (HRV) and self-reported pain and work exhaustion were measured pre-post study period. Salivary α-amylase samples were collected immediately before and after three individual interventions. Salivary cortisol samples were collected on the same three interventions, on three consecutive days starting from the day of intervention, to assess (a) month effect (pre-post study period) and (b) day effect (intervention day vs non-intervention day).

Results: Individual interventions resulted in increase in α-amylase activity. However, the average fold increase decreased from the 3.05 ± 1.20 of the first intervention to 1.91 ± 1.00 and 1.46 ± 0.77 in the second and third intervention, respectively (p < 0.001). Cortisol concentrations were lower on intervention days vs non-intervention days, the difference being indicative (p = 0.050). Pain and work exhaustion decreased during the study period, as well as HRV, although any of these changes was not statistically significant.

Conclusion: For a large-scale study, it would be ideal to select assays for both major pathways: hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis can be measured by cortisol, whereas response via autonomic nervous system can be measured by HRV, when roles of sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems can be pinpointed separately. Salivary α-amylase can be used when continuous monitoring is not possible. Psychological well-being of participants should be surveyed, as well as their activities and moods on sampling days recorded.

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Series: Journal of multidisciplinary healthcare
ISSN: 1178-2390
ISSN-E: 1178-2390
ISSN-L: 1178-2390
Volume: 2022:15
Pages: 57t - 593
DOI: 10.2147/JMDH.S353168
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 1182 Biochemistry, cell and molecular biology
Funding: We gratefully acknowledge financial support of this study from the European Social Fund.
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