A2. Greenness and psychological well-being

View through a window and recovery

Aims and method:

Examines whether assignment to a room with a window view of a natural setting might have restorative influences. It examines records of recovery after cholecystectomy of patients in a suburban Pennsylvania hospital between 1972 and 1981.

Key findings:

· Twenty-three surgical patients assigned to rooms with windows looking out on a natural scene had shorter postoperative hospital stays

· They received fewer negative evaluative comments in nurses' notes, and took fewer potent analgesics than 23 matched patients in similar rooms with windows facing a brick building wall.

Reference:

Ulrich, R. "View through a window may influence recovery." Science 224.4647 (1984): 224-225.

http://science.sciencemag.org/content/224/4647/420

Viewing green space and older people’s well-being

Aims and method:

Investigates the role of outdoor housing environments, including front and back gardens, yards, courtyards, patios and balconies, in older people’s well-being. Descriptions of the outdoor environment were collected from 2,558 individuals living in 526 distinct housing developments using a postal questionnaire. A large range of background variables were measured, mainly through the questionnaire. Characteristics of respondents’ immediate neighbourhood environments were measured from digital maps and satellite / bird’s-eye images.

Key findings:

· Statistically significant predictors of well-being were having one’s own patio and having a green view from one’s living area.

· The research supports the claim that older people benefit from green space as much by viewing it from inside as spending time in it. If older people have no or very little garden space, a green street environment is likely to increase their well-being, especially if it can be seen from their home.

Reference:

Burton, E., Mitchell, L., & Stride, C. (2015). Bed of roses? The role of garden space in older people’s well-being. Proceedings of the Institution of Civil Engineers: Urban Design and Planning, 168(4), 164-173.

http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/89211/

Tracking restoration in natural and urban field settings

Aims and method:

Investigates psycho-physiological stress recovery and directed attention restoration in natural and urban field settings using repeated measures of ambulatory blood pressure, emotion, and attention collected from 112 randomly assigned young adults.

Key findings:

· Sitting in a room with tree views promoted more rapid decline in diastolic blood pressure than sitting in a viewless room

· Subsequently walking in a natural environment fostered blood pressure change that indicated greater stress reduction than afforded by walking in urban surroundings.

Reference:

Hartig, T., Evans, G. W., Jamner, L. D., Davis, D. S., & Gärling, T. (2003). Tracking restoration in natural and urban field settings. Journal of environmental psychology, 23(2), 109-123.

http://psycnet.apa.org/psycinfo/2003-05671-004

Health effects of viewing landscapes

Aims and method:

Analyses the range of landscapes used in environmental psychology studies, and the evidence of health effects related to viewing these landscapes. A review of publications linking landscapes and health effects was conducted.

Key findings:

· Generally, natural landscapes gave a stronger positive health effect compared to urban landscapes. Urban landscapes were found to have a less positive and in some cases negative effect on health.

· Three main kinds of health effects are identified in studies; short-term recovery from stress or mental fatigue, faster physical recovery from illness, and long-term overall improvement on people’s health and well-being.

Reference:

Velarde, M. D., Fry, G., & Tveit, M. (2007). Health effects of viewing landscapes–Landscape types in environmental psychology. Urban Forestry & Urban Greening, 6(4), 199-212.

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1618866707000416

The health impact of scenic environments

Aims and method:

Attempts to quantify the relationship between the aesthetic qualities in the environment and human health. The study draws on data from Scenic-Or-Not, a website that crowdsources ratings of ‘scenicness’ for geotagged photographs across Great Britain, in combination with data on citizen-reported health from the Census for England and Wales. As of August 2014, the Scenic-Or-Not dataset contained 1.5 million votes covering 95% of the 1km grid squares of Great Britain.

Key findings:

· Inhabitants of more scenic environments report better health, across urban, suburban and rural areas. This result holds even when taking core socioeconomic indicators of deprivation, such as income, and data on air pollution into account. Importantly,

· The differences in reports of health can be better explained by the scenicness of the local environment than by measurements of green space alone.

Reference:

Seresinhe, C., Preis, T. & Moat, H.S. (2007). Quantifying the Impact of Scenic Environments on Health. Scientific Reports, 5:16899, 1-9.

https://www.researchgate.net/publication/284716781_Quantifying_the_Impact_of_Scenic_Environments_on_Health

Natural vs. urban scenes and emotional state

Aims and method:

Examines visual exposure to natural elements in outdoor environments. Subjects viewed sixty colour slides of either nature with water, nature dominated by vegetation, or urban environments without water or vegetation. The information rates of the three slide samples were equivalent. Measurements were taken of the effects of the slide presentations on alpha amplitude, heart rate, and emotional states.

Key findings:

· The two categories of nature views had more positive influences on psychophysiological states than the urban scenes.

· There was also a consistent pattern for nature, especially water, to have more positive influences on emotional states.

· Water, and to a lesser extent vegetation, held attention and interest more effectively than the urban scenes.

Reference:

Ulrich, R. S. (1981). Natural versus urban scenes: Some psychophysiological effects. Environment and Behavior, 13(5), 523-556.

http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0013916581135001

Environmental preference and restoration

Aims and method:

In this experimental study, the researchers tested the mediating role of restoration in environmental preferences. Participants viewed a frightening movie, and were then shown a video of either a natural or a built environment. Participants’ mood ratings were assessed before and after they viewed the frightening movie, and again after viewing the environmental video.

Key findings:

· The results indicate that participants perceived the natural environments as more beautiful than the built environments.

· Viewing natural environments elicited greater improvement in mood and marginally better concentration than viewing built environments.

· Natural scenes not only help restoration from mental fatigue but also restoration from anxiety-based stress.

Reference:

Van den Berg, A. E., Koole, S. L., & van der Wulp, N. Y. (2003). Environmental preference and restoration:(How) are they related?. Journal of environmental psychology, 23(2), 135-146.

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0272494402001111

Emotional responses to trees and tree forms

Aims and method:

Explores the ways in which green scenes influence people. In the study, the preferences and emotional responses of 206 participants to viewing scenes with different tree forms and urban elements were examined utilising slides showing spreading, rounded, or columnar trees, or inanimate objects in two urban scenes. Blood pressure, skin temperature and other measurements were taken to measure the response.

Key findings:

· Positive emotional responses were recorded to urban scenes with trees over other inanimate objects, with people reporting feeling happier, friendlier, more attentive, less angry, less sad, and less fearful

· Lower blood pressure was recorded to trees with a spreading shape compared to trees with rounded or conical forms and a positive response and lower blood pressure when viewing dense canopies.

· Human well-being can be improved by planting trees of any form.

Reference:

Lohr, V. I., & Pearson-Mims, C. H. (2006). Responses to scenes with spreading, rounded, and conical tree forms. Environment and Behavior, 38(5), 667-688.

http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0013916506287355

Visual landscapes and psychological well‐being

Aims and method:

Two principal questions are addressed: 1) what effects, if any, does visual perception of nature have on feelings of anxiety; and 2) how do these effects compare with those produced by views of urban environments lacking natural elements. 50 slides of different urban views were shown to 46 people and their responses measured.

Key findings:

· Stressed individuals feel significantly better after exposure to natural scenes rather than to American urban scenes lacking natural elements.

· Exposure to the natural scenes led to feelings of affection, friendliness, playfulness, and elation.

· The major effect of the urban scenes (without natural elements) was to significantly increase sadness, anger and aggression.

Reference:

Ulrich, R. (1979) Visual landscapes and psychological well‐being, Landscape Research, 4:1, 17-23.

http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/01426397908705892?journalCode=clar20

The psychological benefits of natural views from the home

Aims and method:

Focuses on the psychological benefits of views from home windows in six apartment communities in Ann Arbor, Michigan. View contents, including both vegetation and built elements, were measured using both verbal reporting and visual materials.

Key findings:

· Natural views played a substantial role in participants’ satisfaction with their residential context. They also played a significant, although smaller, role in each of the three aspects of well-being included in the study.

· Built components significantly detracted from neighbourhood satisfaction but did not affect well-being.

· Views of gardens, flowers, and well kept landscaped areas played a strong positive role in participants’ neighbourhood satisfaction. More natural views led to stronger overall well-being.

Reference:

Kaplan, R. (2001). The nature of the view from home: Psychological benefits. Environment and behavior, 33(4), 507-542.

http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/00139160121973115

Associations between green space and stress

Aims and method:

Investigates the associations between green space and health, health-related quality of life and stress. Data was derived from the 2005 Danish Health Interview Survey based on a region-stratified random sample of 11,238 adults. Data was collected via face-to-face interviews followed by a self-administered questionnaire, including the eight (SF-36) dimensions of health, and the Perceived Stress Scale, which measures self-reported stress. Multiple logistic regression analyses were performed to investigate the association between distance to green space and stress.

Key findings:

· Those who are living more than 1km away from the nearest green space report poorer health and health-related quality of life across all eight SF-36 health dimensions.

· Respondents living more than 1km away from a green space have 1.42 higher odds of experiencing stress than respondents living less than 300m from a green space.

· Respondents not reporting stress are more likely to visit a green space than are respondents reporting stress.

· Respondents reporting stress are likely to use green spaces to reduce stress.

Reference:

Stigsdotter, U. K., Ekholm, O., Schipperijn, J., Toftager, M., Kamper-Jørgensen, F., & Randrup, T. B. (2010). Health promoting outdoor environments-Associations between green space, and health, health-related quality of life and stress based on a Danish national representative survey. Scandinavian Journal of Social Medicine, 38(4), 411-417.

http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/1403494810367468

Street tree density and antidepressants

Aims and method:

Explores whether the presence of street trees has an impact on the prescription of antidepressants as a surrogate for mental health and wellbeing. Uses secondary data sources to examine the association between the density of street trees (trees/km street) in London boroughs and rates of antidepressant prescribing. The approach includes adjustment for potential confounders and allows for unmeasured area-effects using Bayesian mixed effects models.

Key findings:

· Reveals an inverse association, with a decrease of 1.18 prescriptions per thousand population per unit increase in trees per km of street (95% credible interval 0.00, 2.45).

· Suggests that street trees may be a positive urban asset to decrease the risk of negative mental health outcomes

Reference:

Taylor, M., Wheeler, B., White, P., Economou, T., & Osbourne, N. (2015) Research note: Urban street tree density and antidepressant prescription rates—A cross-sectional study in London, UK. Landscape and Urban Planning, 136, 174-179

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0169204614002941

Open space size, location and depression

Aims and method:

Examined associations between empirical measures of public open space proximity and density with walking and depression. The 2011–12 Australian Diabetes, Obesity and Lifestyle study (AusDiab) wave data was used. Adults living in metropolitan Melbourne, Australia were included (n = 319). Participants reported walking for recreation and any walking within their neighbourhood during the last week. Depression was calculated using the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Short Depression Scale (CESD-10).

Key findings:

· The size of public open space was associated with residents' walking.

· Living within 400m of public open space was not associated with residents' walking.

· Those whose nearest public open space was > 1.5 ha had, respectively, 1.90 times greater odds of walking for recreation and 2.66 times for utility during the last week

· None of public open space measures (of size or distance) were associated with depression.

Reference:

Javad Koohsari, M., Badland, H., Mavoa, S., Villanueva, K., Francis, J., Hooper, P., Owen, N. & Giles-Corti, B.. (2018) Are public open space attributes associated with walking and depression?, Cities, 74: 119-125

https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S026427511730118X