BACKGROUND: Studies on associations between urban green space and mental health have yielded mixed results. This study examines associations of green space exposures with subjective health and depressed affect of middle-aged and older adults in four European cohorts.
METHODS: Data came from four Western-European and Central-European ageing cohorts harmonised as part of the Mindmap project, comprising 16 189 adults with an average age of 50-71 years. Green space exposure was based on the distance to the nearest green space and the amount of green space within 800 m buffers around residential addresses. Cohort-specific and one-step individual participant data (IPD) meta-analyses were used to examine associations of green space exposures with subjective health and depressed affect.
RESULTS: The amount of green spaces within 800 m buffers was lowest for Residential Environment and CORonary heart Disease (Paris, 15.0 hectares) and highest for Health, Alcohol and Psychosocial factors In Eastern Europe (Czech Republic, 35.9 hectares). IPD analyses indicated no evidence of an association between the distance to the nearest green space and depressed affect (OR 0.98, 95% CI 0.96 to 1.00) or good self-rated health (OR 1.01, 95% CI 0.99 to 1.02). Likewise, the amount of green space within 800 m buffers did not predict depressed affect (OR 0.98, 95% CI 0.96 to 1.00) or good self-rated health (OR 1.01, 95% CI 0.99 to 1.02). Findings were consistent across all cohorts.
CONCLUSIONS: Data from four European ageing cohorts provide no support for the hypothesis that green space exposure is associated with subjective health or depressed affect. While longitudinal evidence is required, these findings suggest that green space may be less important for older urban residents.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
Funding This study was supported by the European Union Horizon2020 Programme under grant agreement number 667661 (Promoting depressed affect in the ageing population-MINDMAP). HAPIEE is funded by the Welcome Trust (grants 064947 and 081081), the US National Institute on Aging (grant R01 AG23522-01) and the MacArthur Foundation ’MacArthur Initiative on Social Upheaval and Health’ (grant 712058). LASA is funded largely by a grant from the Netherlands Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport, Directorate of Long-Term Care. The RECORD study is supported by INPES (National Institute for Prevention and Health Education); IReSP (Institute for Public Health Research); InVS (National Institute of Public Health Surveillance); French Ministries of Research and Health; CNAM-TS (National Health Insurance Office for Salaried Workers) and the Ile-de-France Regional Health Agency (ARS).