Exploring the linkage between greenness exposure and depression among Chinese people: Physical activity, stress reduction and neighborhood social cohesion as mediators

Authors: Ye Liu*, , Ruoyu Wang, School of Geography and Planning, Sun Yat-sen University, Yang Xiao, Department of Urban Planning, Tongji University, Baishi Huang, School of Geography and Planning, Sun Yat-sen University, Hongsheng Chen, School of Architecture, Southeast University, Zhigang Li, School of Urban Design, Wuhan University
Topics: Medical and Health Geography, China
Keywords: Greenness exposure, depression, physical activity, stress reduction, social cohesion, China
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/7/2019
Start / End Time: 2:00 PM / 3:40 PM
Room: Madison A, Marriott, Mezzanine Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Although a plethora of studies have investigated the association between green exposure and mental health in developed countries, it is only recently that academics and policymakers have paid attention to how this association works in rapidly urbanizing and developing countries. A few studies have unraveled that residential greenness exposure is associated with general mental wellbeing among people living in large Chinese cities, but whether this relationship exists in smaller cities and rural areas remains poorly understood. This study aims to explore three biopsychosocial pathways linking residential greenness exposure to depression in the Chinese context using nationally representative data from the 2016 wave of China Labor-force Dynamics Survey. It particularly investigates to what extent stress reduction, physical activities, and neighborhood social cohesion mediate the linkage between individuals’ exposure to residential greenness and depression and the extent to which the linkage between residential green exposure and depression depends on the socioeconomic characteristics of their residential neighborhoods. Results from multilevel models along with mediation analysis show that exposure to neighborhood greenness is negatively associated with residents’ level of depressive symptoms, and that physical activities, stress reduction and neighborhood social cohesion altogether have a complete mediation effect on this association. Results from moderation analysis suggest that the level of urbanicity and economic growth moderate the relationship between greenness exposure and depression. Our findings confirm the importance of green space provision in reducing health inequalities and improve mental wellbeing in Chinese settings.

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