Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository


Doctor of Philosophy


Health and Rehabilitation Sciences


Dr. Philip C. Doyle


Restorative environments (RE) are increasingly being explored for their potential to foster psychophysiologic restoration and promote health and well-being. However, there is a paucity of research that focuses on oncology populations. The purpose of this study was to explore whether individuals treated for cancer with chemotherapy construed natural restorative environments (NREs) differently than age- and gender-matched individuals never treated for cancer. Fifteen individuals treated for cancer with chemotherapy (11 females and 4 males; treatment group) and 15 age- and gender-matched individuals (comparison group) participated in interviews and completed repertory grids based on construing NREs. Constructs were elicited directly from participants based on 10 standard a priori elements of natural settings, as well as an eleventh ideal NRE that was generated by each participant based on their preferences. Additionally, participants rated elements according to a standard construct defined as overall restorative—overall not restorative. Repertory grid data were analyzed both ideographically and nomothetically. Idiographic analyses indicated that while variation existed in the way NREs were construed, there were important similarities that indicated individual data could be aggregated. Subsequent nomothetic analyses revealed few differences in how individuals in either group construed NREs. Overwhelmingly, an ideal NRE was described as wild or remote natural environment that included a vista and water. The degree of naturalness was ultimately found to be the most important factor in predicting the restorative potential of a given natural environment, followed by interpretations of structure and the presence of water. Given that no differences were found between groups relative to how NREs were construed, it was determined that the experience of cancer and chemotherapy did not meaningfully impact the way participants in this study construed NREs. Therefore, it is anticipated that research and practice in the RE field that primarily targets healthy populations could be translated to oncology contexts with little difficulty. Given that individuals experiencing ill-health and disability secondary to cancer may stand to benefit meaningfully from restorative experiences with nature, fostering connections with nature and the environment in these contexts should be a future area of focus in the RE field.

Supplement 1 [Figure 5] - cluster analyzed treatment mode grid.pdf (1269 kB)
Supplement 1 - cluster analyzed treatment mode grid

Supplement 2 [Figure 6] - PrinGrid first three components.pdf (998 kB)
Supplement 2 - PrinGrid first three components

Supplement 3 [Figure 7] - reoriented PrinGrid first three components.pdf (986 kB)
Supplement 3 - reoriented PrinGrid first three components

Supplement 4 - comparison of constructs from composite grids of treatment and comparision groups.pdf (4638 kB)
Supplement 4 - comparison of constructs from composite grids of treatment and comparision groups