Effect of Frequency of Using Forest Environment on Workers' Stress: a Comparative Study on Workers in Medical and Counseling Service Institution

산림환경 이용 빈도가 근로자의 스트레스에 미치는 영향: 의료 및 상담서비스기관 종사자에 대한 비교 연구

  • 정원희 (인제대학교 스트레스연구소) ;
  • 우종민 (인제대학교 스트레스연구소) ;
  • 유지수 (인제대학교 스트레스연구소)
  • Received : 2014.01.17
  • Accepted : 2014.03.12
  • Published : 2014.03.31


This study aims to investigate the effect of frequency of using forest environment on workers' stress. Workers in medical and counseling industry, which is recently known to require heavy emotional burden and thus cause a lot of stress and burnout syndrome, participated in the study. We classified 370 subjects, who were working at medical and counseling service institutions in Seoul metropolitan area, into two groups according to frequency of using forest environment by conducting a screening survey. 69 subjects submitted written consent and were recruited for either forest therapy program or control-group test; the "high" group (n=27) at the high frequency of using forest environment and the "low" group (n=42) at the low level. We measured the level of stress by using psychosocial indicators such as Worker's Stress Response Inventory (WSRI), Recovery Experience Questionnaire (REQ), and Maslach Burnout Inventory-General Survey (MBI-GS) and biological ones such as heart rate variability (HRV), cortisol, and Natural Killer cell (NK cell). The results suggested that the level of stress differed by frequency. The "high" group showed significantly low scores in the depression and work sub-scale and the total score of WSRI, emotional exhaustion, professional efficacy and total score of MBI-GS, and high scores in the total score of REQ. Similar tendencies were observed in the most of other indicators of psychosocial measures. Regarding the biological indicators, the "high" group showed the highest SDNN, RMSSD and TP measures of HRV and NK Cell activity and the low cortisol, although the statistical power did not reach the significant level. Our results suggest that the subjects who use forest environment frequently show favorable stress level both psychologically and biologically.


Supported by : 산림청


  1. Baek, S.U. 2010. SERI Business note: Management of workers' stress. 3.3 strategies. Samsung Economic Research Institute.
  2. Choi, J.H., Shin, W.S., Seo, K.W., Cha, W.S., Yeoun, P.S., and Yoo, R.H. 2008. The influence of exercise in a forest environment on blood pressure, heart rate, MDA and SOD.Journal of Korean Forest Society 97(4): 417-22.
  3. Choi, J.I. and Kim, K.H. 2013. Comparison of changed on saliva cortisol according to skill level and gender during paragliding. Journal of Korean Association of Certified Exercise Professionals 15(4): 13-21.
  4. Choi, K.M., Shin, W.S., Yeoun, P.S., and Cho, Y.M. 2011. The influence of forest walking exercise on human, stress and fatigue. Journal of Korean Institute of Forest Recreation 15(1): 61-6.
  5. Choi, S.M., Kang, T.Y., and Woo, J.M. 2006. Development and validation of a modified form of the stress response inventory for workers. Journal of the Korean Newropsychiatr Association 45(6): 541-553.
  6. Horsbrough, P. 1972. Human-plant proximities: A psychological imperative. Indiana Nursery News 33(4): 1-4.
  7. Kaplan, R. 1985. Nature at the doorstep: Residential satisfaction and the nearby environment. Journal of Architectural and Planning Research 2: 115-127.
  8. Kim, B.S., Kim, H.Y., and Lee, S.J. 2013. The effect of forest experiences on happiness and positive psychology of korean middle-aged women in seoul and surrounding metropolitan cities. Journal of Korean Institute of Forest Recreation 17(3): 65-73.
  9. Kim, G.M. and Woo, J.M. 2011. Determinants for Heart Rate Variability in a Normal Korean Population. Journal of Korean Medical Science 26(10): 1293-1298.
  10. Kim, S.K., Shin, W.S., Kim, M.K., Yeoun, P.S., Park, J.H., and Yoo, R.H. 2008. The effects of negative ions on stress responses and cognitive functions. Journal of Korean Forest Society 97(4): 423-430.
  11. Kim, W.B., Rhee, K.Y., and Lee, G.R. 2012. Work environment and stress of emotional laborers. Korean Journal of Sociology 46(2): 123-149.
  12. Ko, Y.A., Baek, H.C., and Hwang, I.Y. 2006. The effects of group walking exercise program on body composition, blood lipids and psychological factors. Journal of Korean Academy of community Health Nursing 17(1): 38-45.
  13. Koh, K.B., Park, J.K., and Kim, C.H. 2000. Development of the stress response inventory. Journal of the Korean Neuropsychiatry Association 39(4): 707-719.
  14. Korea Research Institute for Vocational Education & Training (KRIVET). 2013. Krivet Issue Brief. 26.
  15. Korean Forest Service. 2014. The clinical effect of forest therapy (work in press).
  16. Lee, J.H., Shin, W.S., Yeoun, P.S., and Yoo, R.H. 2009 The influence of forest scenes on psychophysiological responses. Journal of Korean Forest Society 98(1): 88-93.
  17. Lewis, C.A. 1972. Public housing gardens-landscapes for the soul, United States Department of Agriculture. Yearbook of Agriculture. pp. 277-282.
  18. Lim, S.J. (2 Dec. 2013). [Project] Enterprises' focus on healing their workers' heart. Kukminilbo. Kukinews. . (14 Jan. 2014)
  19. Park, H.I., Park, Y.A., Kim, M., and Hur, T.K. 2011. A validation study of a korean version of the recovery experience. The Korean Journal of Industrial and Organizational Psychology 24(3): 523-552.
  20. Park, B.J. 2012. Experimental approach of therapeutic effect of forest recreation activities: focused on viewing and walking in forest environments (Doctoral dissertation). Chungnam National University.
  21. Park, S.K. (25 Jun. 2013). [Green forest awakens five senses] Japanese forest therapy systematized by a local autonomous and private entity. Seoulsinmun. . (14 Jan. 2014)
  22. Pines, A.M. and Aronson, E. 1988. Career Brunout: Causes and Cures. New York: Free Press.
  23. Shin, K.H. 2003. An application in south korea = the Maslach Burnout Inventory-General Survey (MBI-GS). The Korean Journal of Industrial and Organizational Psychology 16(3): 1-17.
  24. Shin, W.S., Kim, J.J. Kim, W.J., Yoo, R.H., and Lee, B.D. 2003. The influence of urban forests on job satisfaction and stress. Journal of Korean Forest Society 92(1): 92-99.
  25. Shin, W.S., Lee, S.I., Ryu, J.H., and Lee, E.W. 2000. The influence of forest experience on the mental health. Journal of Korean Institute of Forest Recreation 4(1): 25-32.
  26. Shoemaker, C.A., Randall, K., Relf, P.D., and Geller, E.S. 1992. Relationships between plants, behavior, and attitudes in an office environment. HortTechnology 2(2): 205-206.
  27. Song, J.H., Shin, W.S., Yeoun, P.S., and Choi, M.D. 2009. The influence of forest therapeutic program on unmarried mothers' depression and self-exteem. Journal of Korean Forest Society 98(1): 82-87.
  28. Song, S.Y. 2013. Difference in emotional control style and self-encouragement level according to types of job burnout( Master's thesis). Korea University.
  29. Sonnentag, S. and Fritz, C. 2007. The recovery experience questionnaire: Development and validation of a measure for assessing recuperation and unwinding from work. Journal of Occupational Health Psychology 12: 204-221.
  30. Sung, J.D., Woo, J.M., Kim, W., Lim, S.K., and Chung, E.J. 2012. The effect of cognitive behavior therapy-based "Forest Therapy" program on blood pressure, salivary cortisol level, and quality of life in elderly hypertensive patients. Clinical and Experimental Hypertension 30(1): 1-7.
  31. Woo, J.M., Park, S.M., Lim, S.K., and Kim, W. 2012. Synergistic effect of forest environment and therapeutic program for the treatment of depression. Journal of Korean Forest Society 101(4): 677-685.
  32. Yoo, Y.H. 2013. The influence on psychological restoration by the types of urban forest and forest-use characteristics (Master's thesis). Chungbuk National University.