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News & Views - Sep, 1999 Issue #61

Press Release by: Keith Russell, Leader
Outdoor Behavioral Health Research Cooperative
University of Idaho Wilderness Research Center
Moscow, Idaho
(Fax) 208-885-6810
wrc@uidaho.edu or keithr@uidaho.edu
John C. Hendee, Professor & Director
University of Idaho Wilderness Research Center
Moscow, Idaho

(August 4, 1999, Moscow, Idaho) The Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare Industry Council [OBHIC] announced the creation of a research cooperative at the University of Idaho Wilderness Research Center to conduct studies and develop new information for the benefit of the industry. OBHIC represents outdoor behavior healthcare treatment programs that include outdoor-based mental health programs and court programs for troubled youth.

“The purpose of the Outdoor Behavioral Healthcare Research Cooperative is to carry out a comprehensive research program to advance the industry,” stated OBHIC Chairman, Mike Merchant, who’s also Vice President of Anasazi Wilderness Therapy in Mesa, Arizona. “Wilderness and outdoor treatment programs are emerging as a very successful alternative for youth with addictions and behavioral issues. We need the benefit of continued research, so we’re forming the research cooperative with an established leader in research on wilderness programs for youth, The University of Idaho-Wilderness Research Center, to participate in their continuing work.”

About a dozen outdoor behavioral healthcare programs that are members of OBHIC will contribute financially to support the research cooperative. Initial plans call for studies to document the extent of the wilderness and outdoor treatment industry in terms of: the number of programs and clients; assessment of client outcomes; analysis of risk to physical and emotional safety of clients (very low, based on preliminary findings); and the social and economic importance of the industry. The Cooperative will be lead by Dr. Keith Russell who just completed a doctoral dissertation on the processes employed and outcomes experienced in four OBHIC member programs.

According to Mark Hobbins, Senior Vice President for Aspen Health Services, headquartered in Cerritos, California, “current, objective information is a key to advancing the industry. We need objective and credible studies that document the positive outcomes we see in outdoor treatment. That is the evidence that medical insurance companies, social service agencies, adjudication authorities, school officials and parents want to see, and we know it’s there – we see it everyday. But it’s got to be documented in an objective and credible way. That’s why we’re going to a proven source of such studies, a university, to launch this effort.” Contributing members of the research cooperative also hope that the research will help set industry standards and benchmarks to improve quality of care of the outdoor behavioral healthcare industry.

For more information, CONTACT: Keith Russell or John C. Hendee as listed above.

Copyright © 1999, Woodbury Reports, Inc. (This article may be reproduced without prior approval if the copyright notice and proper publication and author attribution accompanies the copy.)

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