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Feeling Useful: Considering mental well-being among older participants in archaeological projects.

Breen, F. H., 2024. Feeling Useful: Considering mental well-being among older participants in archaeological projects. Masters Thesis (Masters). Bournemouth University.

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BREEN, Frances Helen_M.Res._2024.pdf
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Feeling 'useful' to and valued by oneself, family, friends, and society at large has been shown to have a dramatic impact on mental and physical health of older people. This research focuses on people over the age of 60 as these represent a poorly documented but growing constituency. While military veterans and those who have sought assistance for their mental well-being have already been the subject of study in an archaeological setting, older people have not, despite large numbers supporting archaeological and heritage projects, about whom we know very little. There have been no studies investigating whether taking part in archaeological projects has an impact on older participants' feelings of 'usefulness' as a dimension of mental well-being. The aim of this project is to explore how being involved in archaeological projects impacts on a sense of usefulness and better understand the impact and potential benefits that participation in archaeology can have on older people's mental well-being. A two-stage approach was developed, although its implementation was partly constrained by the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions in force during this project. This two- stage study sought firstly to examine and quantify the volunteering opportunities available through archaeological organisations in England to provide context for the project, and secondly by conducting a series of focus groups to better understand the concept of usefulness from those who have participated in archaeological projects. The quantitative research involved mapping the nature and extent of archaeological and cultural heritage related activities available for older people across England, for example local associations and societies, excavations, and groups set up to undertake archaeological projects. The qualitative research utilised focus groups conducted online, all following a pre-agreed interview schedule. 12 people over the age of 60 from the UK participated in this study. There was a mix of both male (n = 10) and female (n = 2) participants ranging in age between 60 and 81 years old. All the participants were retired. Focus groups were recorded, and audio transcribed for subsequent thematic analysis. Four broad themes were identified which included: Fulfilment; Connectivity; Health Impact and Ageing. Although the study was limited in scale, the participants overwhelmingly reported beneficial impacts on mental well-being as a result of taking part in archaeological projects. As a pilot study this work revealed important insights that, if multiplied up to the scale suggested by the mapping exercise, has implications for those 60+ age-group communities across the country, and for the development and support of archaeological and heritage-based projects in terms of their contributions to well-being.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Additional Information:If you feel that this work infringes your copyright please contact the BURO Manager.
Uncontrolled Keywords:Well-being; Archaeology; Older People
Group:Faculty of Science & Technology
ID Code:40020
Deposited By: Symplectic RT2
Deposited On:13 Jun 2024 10:48
Last Modified:13 Jun 2024 10:48


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