A rapidly growing body of research has linked increased exposure to green space (also referred to as greenness or natural environments) to a range of positive health outcomes (e.g. birth outcomes, respiratory illnesses, mental health and mortality). Our research focuses on enhancing green space exposure assessments, integrating green space measures with other potential spatially correlated built environment factors (e.g. air pollution) and exploring associations with health outcomes.
Green space associations with mental health and cognitive function
Urban green space may be important to mental health, but the association between long-term green space exposures and depression, anxiety, and cognitive function in adults remains unknown. We have multiple on-going observational studies that are examining how urban green space relates to mental health.
Green space exposure measures
Green space as an "exposure" is not well defined or measured and may influence health through several hypothesized pathways: 1) through the reduction of harmful environmental exposures such as air and noise pollution; 2) by providing space for increased utilitarian and recreational physical activity; 3) by providing a setting for psychosocial influences, such as increased social contacts and community belonging; and 4) through directly reducing psychological stress and depression. Our research focuses on enhancing green space exposure assessment for epidemiological research.
Acute physiological responses to urban green space
Few studies have measured the acute stress responses that occur from daily (real-world) urban green space exposures and how other environmental exposures (e.g. air pollution, noise and heat exposures) may mediate this potential association. We are conducting a crossover study with a prescribed route capturing different green space variation and measuring physiological stress measures (continuously monitored EEG, BP, HR, SC), psychological measures (survey of mood and restoration) and environmental exposures (continuously monitored air pollution, noise and heat).