Green spaces, subjective health and depressed affect in middle-aged and older adults: A cross-country comparison of four European cohorts

J. Mark Noordzij*, Marielle A. Beenackers, Joost Oude Groeniger, Erik Timmermans, Basile Chaix, Dany Doiron, Martijn Huisman, Irina Motoc, Milagros Ruiz, Rita Wissa, Mauricio Avendano, Frank J. van Lenthe

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

Abstract

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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)470-476
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Epidemiology and Community Health
Volume75
Issue number5
Early online date2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2021

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