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Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2014, 11(3), 3453-3472; doi:10.3390/ijerph110303453
Article

Exposure to Neighborhood Green Space and Mental Health: Evidence from the Survey of the Health of Wisconsin

1,* , 1
, 2
, 3
, 4
 and 4
1 Division of Epidemiology, Institute for Health and Society, Medical College of Wisconsin, 8701 Watertown Plank Rd., Milwaukee, WI 53226, USA 2 Division of Biostatistics, Institute for Health and Society, Medical College of Wisconsin, 8701 Watertown Plank Rd., Milwaukee, WI 53226, USA 3 PhD Program in Public and Community Health, Institute for Health and Society, Medical College of Wisconsin, 8701 Watertown Plank Rd., Milwaukee, WI 53226, USA 4 Department of Population Health Sciences, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, 610 Walnut St., Madison, WI 53726, USA
* Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 31 January 2014 / Revised: 5 March 2014 / Accepted: 13 March 2014 / Published: 21 March 2014
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Abstract

Green space is now widely viewed as a health-promoting characteristic of residential environments, and has been linked to mental health benefits such as recovery from mental fatigue and reduced stress, particularly through experimental work in environmental psychology. Few population level studies have examined the relationships between green space and mental health. Further, few studies have considered the role of green space in non-urban settings. This study contributes a population-level perspective from the United States to examine the relationship between environmental green space and mental health outcomes in a study area that includes a spectrum of urban to rural environments. Multivariate survey regression analyses examine the association between green space and mental health using the unique, population-based Survey of the Health of Wisconsin database. Analyses were adjusted for length of residence in the neighborhood to reduce the impact of neighborhood selection bias. Higher levels of neighborhood green space were associated with significantly lower levels of symptomology for depression, anxiety and stress, after controlling for a wide range of confounding factors. Results suggest that “greening” could be a potential population mental health improvement strategy in the United States.
Keywords: green space; nature; neighborhood environment; mental health; population-based surveys; United States green space; nature; neighborhood environment; mental health; population-based surveys; United States
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Beyer, K.M.M.; Kaltenbach, A.; Szabo, A.; Bogar, S.; Nieto, F.J.; Malecki, K.M. Exposure to Neighborhood Green Space and Mental Health: Evidence from the Survey of the Health of Wisconsin. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2014, 11, 3453-3472.

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