Commitment to Research

The founders of Legacy Treatment Center have long been leaders in supporting research in the field of Wilderness Therapy. Executive Director Gil Hallows was one of the founders of the Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare Council (OBHC) in 1996. The OBHC’s research arm is called the Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare Research Cooperative (OBHRC). Gil has served on the OBHRC Steering Committee, the OBHC Research Committee, which superseded the OBHRC, the NATSAP Research Committee, and supported the establishment of the Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare Center housed at the University of New Hampshire under the direction of Dr. Michael Gass and Dr. Anita Tucker.

42730677 1953013794779157 6411192103300235264 n

Some of the significant OBHC studies include:

Does Wilderness Treatment Work? Does It Last?

This outcome study was conducted by Dr. Keith Russell and published in 2002 

(Longitudinal Assessment of Treatment Outcomes in Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare) administered the Youth Outcome Questionnaire (YOQ) to a sample of 858 Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare (OBH) participants and their families from seven programs over a full year. The YOQ is a simple but well-researched and solid therapeutic outcome test on which higher scores indicate greater behavioral/mental health disorder. Average scores for adolescents admitted to a psychiatric hospital are about 100; average score for teens in outpatient treatment are 78; the average community adolescent score is 23. The upper limit of the normal community range is 46.

The results showed that participants enter wilderness treatment programs with scores of about 100, as rated by their parents.  At discharge, parents scored their participant at about 49, just outside the normal community range.  At three and six months after discharge, participants’ scores rose slightly, to 56 and 57, but not statistically significantly, before trending back down to 49 again at 12 months. In other words, contrary to a common opinion about brief, intense treatments, the therapeutic and behavioral gains of outdoor behavioral healthcare treatment were sustained over 12 months.

A follow-up study entitled “Two Years Later” published by Dr. Keith Russell in 2004 when these participants were two to three years out of their outdoor behavioral healthcare treatment, called 88 of these families and participants to ask how they were doing, using a structured interview.  Below is a summary of significant findings:

  • 81% of parents believed OBH treatment was effective for their child and an additional 8% believed it was partially effective
  • 87% of OBH graduates were either enrolled in school or working.
  • 87 percent of OBH participants reported that they were “doing well.”
  • 96 percent of participants reported that OBH treatment was effective for them.

See the Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare Center website, for additional research findings on OBH topics such as:

  • Effectiveness in treating mental health issues such as depression, anxiety and stress
  • Effectiveness in treating substance abuse
  • How OBH works
  • Managing risk in the wilderness
  • How safe are OBH programs?
  • Engaging resistant clients
  • Family Involvement