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Neighbourhood green space, social environment and mental health: an examination in four European cities


  • Annemarie Ruijsbroek

    () (National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM))

  • Sigrid M. Mohnen

    (National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM))

  • Mariël Droomers

    (University of Amsterdam)

  • Hanneke Kruize

    (National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM))

  • Christopher Gidlow

    (Staffordshire University)

  • Regina Gražulevičiene

    (Vytauto Didžiojo Universitetas)

  • Sandra Andrusaityte

    (Vytauto Didžiojo Universitetas)

  • Jolanda Maas

    (Vrije Universiteit (VU))

  • Mark J. Nieuwenhuijsen

    (Barcelona Biomedical Research Park
    University Pompeu Fabra (UPF)
    CIBER Epidemiology y Salud Publica (CIBERESP))

  • Margarita Triguero-Mas

    (Barcelona Biomedical Research Park
    University Pompeu Fabra (UPF)
    CIBER Epidemiology y Salud Publica (CIBERESP))

  • Daniel Masterson

    (Staffordshire University)

  • Naomi Ellis

    (Staffordshire University)

  • Elise Kempen

    (National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM))

  • Wim Hardyns

    (Ghent University
    University of Antwerp)

  • Karien Stronks

    (University of Amsterdam)

  • Peter P. Groenewegen

    (NIVEL (Netherlands Institute for Health Services Research)
    Utrecht University)


Abstract Objectives This study examines the relationship between neighbourhood green space, the neighbourhood social environment (social cohesion, neighbourhood attachment, social contacts), and mental health in four European cities. Methods The PHENOTYPE study was carried out in 2013 in Barcelona (Spain), Stoke-on-Trent (United Kingdom), Doetinchem (The Netherlands), and Kaunas (Lithuania). 3771 adults living in 124 neighbourhoods answered questions on mental health, neighbourhood social environment, and amount and quality of green space. Additionally, audit data on neighbourhood green space were collected. Multilevel regression analyses examined the relation between neighbourhood green space and individual mental health and the influence of neighbourhood social environment. Results Mental health was only related to green (audit) in Barcelona. The amount and quality of neighbourhood green space (audit and perceived) were related to social cohesion in Doetinchem and Stoke-on-Trent and to neighbourhood attachment in Doetinchem. In all four cities, mental health was associated with social contacts. Conclusions Neighbourhood green was related to mental health only in Barcelona. Though neighbourhood green was related to social cohesion and attachment, the neighbourhood social environment seems not the underlying mechanism for this relationship.

Suggested Citation

  • Annemarie Ruijsbroek & Sigrid M. Mohnen & Mariël Droomers & Hanneke Kruize & Christopher Gidlow & Regina Gražulevičiene & Sandra Andrusaityte & Jolanda Maas & Mark J. Nieuwenhuijsen & Margarita Trigue, 2017. "Neighbourhood green space, social environment and mental health: an examination in four European cities," International Journal of Public Health, Springer;Swiss School of Public Health (SSPH+), vol. 62(6), pages 657-667, July.
  • Handle: RePEc:spr:ijphth:v:62:y:2017:i:6:d:10.1007_s00038-017-0963-8
    DOI: 10.1007/s00038-017-0963-8

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. George C. Galster, 2008. "Quantifying the Effect of Neighbourhood on Individuals: Challenges, Alternative Approaches, and Promising Directions," Schmollers Jahrbuch : Journal of Applied Social Science Studies / Zeitschrift für Wirtschafts- und Sozialwissenschaften, Duncker & Humblot, Berlin, vol. 128(1), pages 7-48.
    2. de Vries, Sjerp & van Dillen, Sonja M.E. & Groenewegen, Peter P. & Spreeuwenberg, Peter, 2013. "Streetscape greenery and health: Stress, social cohesion and physical activity as mediators," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 94(C), pages 26-33.
    3. Francis, Jacinta & Wood, Lisa J. & Knuiman, Matthew & Giles-Corti, Billie, 2012. "Quality or quantity? Exploring the relationship between Public Open Space attributes and mental health in Perth, Western Australia," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 74(10), pages 1570-1577.
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