Reviewing and Benchmarking Adventure Therapy Outcomes: Applications of Meta-analysis 


James T. Neill

Journal of Experiential Education, 25(3), 316-321, 2003


This article summarizes evidence from meta-analyses of outdoor education, psychotherapy, and education which can be used to help determine the relative efficacy of adventure therapy programs.  The major outdoor education meta-analysis by Hattie, Marsh, Neill, and Richards (1997) cites an effect size of .34 for immediate program effectiveness.  Meta-analytic studies of innovative education programs in school settings report similar effects (Hattie et al., Hattie, 1992, 1993); psychological training meta-analyses report slightly higher effects (Lipsey & Wilson, 1993), and meta-analyses of psychotherapy effectiveness find stronger effects (Casey & Berman, 1985; Smith, Glass, & Miller, 1980).  This article derives outcome benchmarks for adventure therapy program outcomes from existing outdoor education, psychological, and educational meta-analyses and recommends that the benchmarks be used in adventure therapy research and evaluation to allow for more accurate assessments of  programís effectiveness.  The suggested benchmarks should be used as guides only and should be refined in future by meta-analyses of adventure therapy outcomes.

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