Introduction: Since 2015, there has been growing interest in Canada and beyond on the benefits of outdoor play for physical, emotional, social and environmental health, well-being and development, for adults as well as children and youth.
Methods: This scoping review aims to answer the question, “How, and in what context, is adult-oriented outdoor play being studied in Canada?” We conducted an electronic search for peer-reviewed articles on outdoor play published in English or French after September 2015 by authors from Canadian institutions or about Canadian adults. The 224 retrieved articles were organized according to eight priorities: health, well-being and development; outdoor play environments; safety and outdoor play; cross-sectoral connections; equity, diversity and inclusion; professional development; Indigenous Peoples and land-based outdoor play; and COVID-19. We tallied the study designs and measurement methods used.
Results: The most common priority was outdoor play environments; the least common were COVID-19 and Indigenous Peoples and land-based outdoor play. Cross-sectional studies were the most common; no rapid reviews were identified. Sample sizes varied from one auto-ethnographic reflection to 147 000 zoo visitor datapoints. More studies used subjective than objective measurement methods. Environmental health was the most common outcome and mental/emotional development was the least.
Senior Scientist, CHEO Research Institute