2019-mygind.pdf: “Effects of Public Green Space on Acute Psychophysiological Stress Response: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis of the Experimental and Quasi-Experimental Evidence”, (2019-09-09; ):
Contact with nature is widely considered to ameliorate psychological stress, but the empirical support for a causal link is limited. We conducted a systematic review to synthesize and critically assess the evidence. Six electronic databases were searched. Twenty-six studies evaluated the difference between the effect of natural environments and that of a suitable control on the acute psychophysiological stress response. Eighteen studies were rated as being of moderate quality, four studies of low quality, and four studies of high quality. Meta-analyses indicated that seated relaxation ( g = 0.5, p = 0.06) and walking ( g = 0.3, p = 0.02) in natural environments enhanced heart rate variability more than the same activities in control conditions. Cortisol concentration measures were inconsistent. While intuitively and theoretically sound, the empirical support for acute stress-reducing effects of immersion in natural environments is tentative due to small sample sizes and methodological weaknesses in the studies. We provide guidelines for future research.
2019-engemann.pdf: “Residential green space in childhood is associated with lower risk of psychiatric disorders from adolescence into adulthood”, (2019-01-01):
Urban residence is associated with a higher risk of some psychiatric disorders, but the underlying drivers remain unknown. There is increasing evidence that the level of exposure to natural environments impacts mental health, but few large-scale epidemiological studies have assessed the general existence and importance of such associations. Here, we investigate the prospective association between green space and mental health in the Danish population. Green space presence was assessed at the individual level using high-resolution satellite data to calculate the normalized difference vegetation index within a 210 × 210 m square around each person’s place of residence (~1 million people) from birth to the age of 10. We show that high levels of green space presence during childhood are associated with lower risk of a wide spectrum of psychiatric disorders later in life. Risk for subsequent mental illness for those who lived with the lowest level of green space during childhood was up to 55% higher across various disorders compared with those who lived with the highest level of green space. The association remained even after adjusting for urbanization, socioeconomic factors, parental history of mental illness, and parental age. Stronger association of cumulative green space presence during childhood compared with single-year green space presence suggests that presence throughout childhood is important. Our results show that green space during childhood is associated with better mental health, supporting efforts to better integrate natural environments into urban planning and childhood life.
2013-white.pdf: “Would You Be Happier Living in a Greener Urban Area? A Fixed-Effects Analysis of Panel Data”, (2013-04-23; ):
Urbanization is a potential threat to mental health and well-being. Cross-sectional evidence suggests that living closer to urban green spaces, such as parks, is associated with lower mental distress. However, earlier research was unable to control for time-invariant heterogeneity (eg., personality) and focused on indicators of poor psychological health. The current research advances the field by using panel data from over 10,000 individuals to explore the relation between urban green space and well-being (indexed by ratings of life satisfaction) and between urban green space and mental distress (indexed by General Health Questionnaire scores) for the same people over time. Controlling for individual and regional covariates, we found that, on average, individuals have both lower mental distress and higher well-being when living in urban areas with more green space. Although effects at the individual level were small, the potential cumulative benefit at the community level highlights the importance of policies to protect and promote urban green spaces for well-being.