A systematic map of the mental health benefits of greenspace

Authors: Rebecca Collins*, University of Southampton, Felix Eigenbrod, University of Southampton, Rebecca Spake, University of Southampton, Dianna Smith, Univeristy of Southampton, Booker Ogutu, University of Southampton, Kerry Brown, Kingston University
Topics: Medical and Health Geography, Geography and Urban Health, Human-Environment Geography
Keywords: green space, mental health, systematic map, review, longitudinal
Session Type: Poster
Day: 4/6/2019
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Lincoln 2, Marriott, Exhibition Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


Over the past 35 years, since the popularisation of Wilson’s biophilia hypothesis, there has been as accumulation of empirical evidence that although not conclusive has formed a positive association between the green space and mental health and well-being. However, existing reviews of evidence are either broad narrative assessments or specific systematic reviews, and a systematic broad synthesis of this research field as a whole is lacking. This research provides such a synthesis using systematic mapping methodology to describe and ‘map’ research evaluating the link between mental health and green space.

Titles and abstracts of peer reviewed papers were screened systematically for their relevancy. Studies that evaluated a quantitative measure of mental health as the outcome in relation to a quantitative measure of green space were included. The search identified 6,059 papers, 276 of which met the inclusion criteria and were coded using key words and categories to create a searchable database. Ordination analysis was then applied to illustrate the knowledge gaps within the literature.

Results show a clear knowledge gap in observational studies that adopt longitudinal analysis and measures of green space quality. This is an important consideration for future research as cross-sectional observational studies have identified that green space micro-features (i.e. quality) can influence mental health benefits. However, it is only with longitudinal assessment that we are able to demonstrate causality, not just association, and establish what types and characteristics of the green space effect mental health at different points of a life-course.

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