How do natural features in the residential environment influence women's self-reported general health? Results from cross-sectional analyses of a U.S. national cohort
Tsai, W., R. Silva, M. Nash, F. Cochran, S. Prince, D. Rosenbaum, A. D'Aloisio, L. Jackson, M. Mehaffey, A. Neale, D. Sandler, AND T. Buckley. How do natural features in the residential environment influence women's self-reported general health? Results from cross-sectional analyses of a U.S. national cohort. ENVIRONMENTAL RESEARCH. Elsevier B.V., Amsterdam, Netherlands, 183:109176, (2020). https://doi.org/10.1016/j.envres.2020.109176
This research will yield a more complete assessment of environmental influences on human health and well-being in support of EPA's mission to protect public health and the environment.
Background The relationship between health and human interaction with nature is complex. Here we conduct analyses to provide insights into potential health benefits related to residential proximity to nature. Objectives We aimed to examine associations between measures of residential nature and self-reported general health (SRGH), and to explore mediation roles of behavioral, social, and air quality factors, and variations in these relationships by urbanicity and regional climate. Methods Using residential addresses for 41,127 women from the Sister Study, a U.S.-based national cohort, we derived two nature exposure metrics, canopy and non-gray cover, using Percent Tree Canopy and Percent Developed Imperviousness from the National Land Cover Database. Residential circular buffers of 250 m and 1250 m were considered. Gradient boosted regression trees were used to model the effects of nature exposure on the odds of reporting better SRGH (Excellent/Very Good versus the referent, Good/Fair/Poor). Analyses stratified by urbanicity and regional climate (arid, continental, temperate) and mediation by physical activity, social support, and air quality was examined and were conducted. Results A 10% increase in canopy and non-gray cover within 1250 m buffer was associated with 1.02 (95% CI: 1.00–1.03) and 1.03 (95% CI: 1.01–1.04) times the odds of reporting better SRGH, respectively. Stronger associations were observed for the urban group and for continental climate relative to other strata. Social support and physical activity played a more significant mediation role than air quality for the full study population. Discussion Findings from this study identified a small but important beneficial association between residential nature and general health. These findings could inform community planning and investments in neighborhood nature for targeted health improvements and potential societal and environmental co-benefits.