“While the doctors and medicine may have saved my life,
First Descents taught me how to live again.”

First Descents is committed to studying program impact and efficacy. To date, we’ve participated in two formal impact studies on our oncology programs that inform ongoing program evaluation.

We are excited to apply similar evaluation methods to our evolving work with MS and healthcare worker programs.

First Descents addresses what the National Cancer Institute identifies as a major determinant of long term survivorship health: ongoing psychosocial supportive care.

Why Young Adults?

Cancer, MS, and all serious health conditions present unique challenges and obstacles to young adults. Cancer is the leading disease-related cause of death in adolescents and young adults (AYAs). With approximately 87,000 new diagnoses annually, young adults comprise the fastest-growing and most underserved oncology age demographic.

Additionally, MS is the most common neuroinflammatory disease affecting the young adult community. 

The Healing Power of Adventure®


In 2015, First Descents worked with the University of Michigan to evaluate the psychosocial benefits of our programming. The infographic above highlights the top findings from this study including an increase in self esteem, body image and our participants ability to cope with cancer and its ongoing effects. Additionally, reports of moderate to severe depression and anxiety (as measured by the PHQ-4) marked a 60% decrease for FD participants.

This 2015 study continued First Descents’ effort to better understand the psychosocial effects of going on a First Descents program following up on a study conducted in 2012 with the Keck Graduate Institute. The full studies from 2015 and 2012 are linked below.

Read the Study: An Adventure Program for Young Adults with cancer, who benefits? A study featured in Supportive Care in Cancer Journal
Read the Study: An Outdoor Adventure Program for Young Adults with Cancer: Positive Effects on Body Image and Psychosocial Functioning


Read the Abstract: First Descents MS Programming, from the California School of Professional Psychology
Read the Study: Outdoor Adventure Programs for Persons with Multiple Sclerosis













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