In this project we will be investigating the impacts of neighbourhood greenspaces on community health and wellbeing.
A key element of this first phase of the project is to develop relevant methodologies and to understand how to combine information from an interdisciplinary, mixed method study to produce valuable, policy relevant research findings.
Neighbourhood natural spaces have the potential to impact on local residents’ health and wellbeing by positively affecting:
- Patterns and location of physical activity
- General physical and mental health
- Use of the local natural environment
- Perceptions of, and engagement with, the wider environment and community
Due to the complex nature of these relationships, we will use a mixture of robust research methods to understand how health and environmental outcomes, behaviours and attitudes are related. Primary methods include:
- A postal survey which asks people about aspects of their health and wellbeing, and how they interact with their neighbourhood and environment. Using previously validated questions the questionnaire will assess: how much physical activity people do; how their health is in general; how often they use local parks and green spaces; and their general attitudes towards various environmental issues.
- An assessment of people’s physical activity; using accelerometers and GPS units we will focus on the amount of activity people do and the places they are active in.
- Interviews and focus groups with local residents to understand how people feel about their community, local environments, and opportunities for outdoor activity.
- Photography project to document the places people consider important.
The findings will help to develop our understanding of how neighbourhood environments affect health and wellbeing, an area which is of great interest both nationally and internationally. By developing the scientific evidence, the research will help to inform local and national policies and projects that shape our environments (such as planning and urban development) in a way that maximises opportunities for benefits to both the environment and our health.
Dr Ben Wheeler is the project lead for this study.