Healthy Built Environments

Healthy Built Environments

Determining the specific amenable characteristics of cities, communities and neighborhoods that influence individual health-related behaviors and health outcomes is central to informing population health policy.

What constitutes healthy built environments remained largely unknown, despite the resurgence of research in this area over the last few decades.

Our research focuses on creating methods to improve measurement of built environment conditions important to health, understanding the pathways and interactions with other environmental and individual exposures, and examining associations with a wide-variety of health outcomes.

Examples of ongoing research in this area include


tree streetscape

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.

road sceen in Inda

A global perspective of built environment factors important to health

Most research examining how the built environment influences health has been conducted in developed countries. We are examining how a range of built environment factors are associated with health behaviors and health outcomes across 800 communities and 27 countries in the Prospective Urban and Rural Epidemiology (PURE) study.

urban expansion map

Urban expansion and air pollution in Asia

Characteristics of urban areas, such as density and compactness, are associated with local air pollution concentrations. The potential for altering air pollution through changing urban characteristics, however, is less certain, especially for expanding cities within the developing world. We are examining how urban characteristics are associated with air pollution levels and how these relationships vary between cities and over time.

Representative Publications

Hystad, P., Carpiano, R., Demers, P., Brauer, M. (2013) Neighborhood Socioeconomic Status and Personal Lung Cancer Risk: Evaluating Long-Term Exposure Measures and Mediating Mechanisms. Social Science and Medicine. 97: 95-103. PMID: 24161094



Carpiano, R., Hystad, P. (2011). "Sense of Community Belonging" in Health Surveys: What Social Capital is it Measuring? Health and Place. 17(2), 606-617. PMID: 21296607


Hystad, P., Carpiano, R. (2010). Sense of Community Belonging and Health Behavior Change in Canada. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. 66(3), 277-283. PMID: 20947874