Exploring barriers to green space use and how these differ by chronic health condition

Burnett, Hannah (2023) Exploring barriers to green space use and how these differ by chronic health condition. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Background: Using green space has been shown to improve health and wellbeing. However, use is unequal across many groups, such as those defined by age and income. Poor health is one of the most commonly reported barriers to green space use, despite individuals with poor health having the most potential benefit. Further research is required to understand the health-related barriers to green space use and how these differ by type of chronic condition, including physical and mental health conditions. The Covid-19 pandemic may have further exacerbated barriers to green space use and therefore requires further investigation to understand the influence of the novel restrictions/lockdowns on green space use.

Aims: The thesis aims to explore how general barriers to use of green space, those specifically related to physical health, and those related to the Covid-19 pandemic, vary between people with different chronic health conditions and socio-demographic characteristics.

Methods: Two nationally representative surveys were used to explore general and health related barriers to green space use: Natural England’s People and Nature Survey (PANS) and a new survey administered through YouGov. In PANS, data were collected between November 2020-March 2021 (N=10,415 English adults aged 16+), and the YouGov survey consisted of three survey waves in April 2020, November 2020, and April 2021 (N=6,713 UK adults aged 18+). A question capturing the types of chronic health condition experienced by individuals was included in both surveys. Data were also collected on frequency of green space use, barriers to green space use, and demographic characteristics including sex, age, and income. The surveys also collected data on barriers to green space use introduced or exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic. Associations between the outcome variables (the barriers to green space use) and predictors (the health conditions and socio-demographic variables) were assessed using Structural Equation Modelling (SEMs) and multiple binary logistic regression models.

Findings: The most commonly reported barrier to green space use for those with chronic health conditions was ‘poor physical health’. The findings indicated that those with physical disabilities and progressive illnesses reported physical health-related barriers (mobility and health, lack of disabled facilities, unsuitable/poorly maintained sites, and having no-one to go with/help them) as important in stopping them from visiting green spaces in the last 14 days. A lack of disabled facilities was found to be a particularly important issue for respondents with heart/circulatory conditions, physical disabilities, and progressive illnesses. Poor mental health was more likely to be reported as a barrier by those with mental health conditions, diabetes, and respiratory conditions, as well as by respondents aged 16-24 years. The Covid-19 pandemic was found to have exacerbated existing inequalities in both green space use and reporting of barriers with the introduction of new issues, such as worrying about social distancing and green spaces being too busy.

Conclusions: Overall, there were differences by type of health condition and socio demographic characteristics when reporting barriers to green space use. The findings outlined in this study emphasise that a ‘one size fits all’ approach to increasing green space use and mitigating barriers to use for individuals with chronic health conditions will not work, with a more targeted approach required to ensure that green spaces are accessible and provide health and well-being benefits for all.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Subjects: R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine
Colleges/Schools: College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Health & Wellbeing > MRC/CSO Unit
Supervisor's Name: Mitchell, Professor Rich and Olsen, Dr. Jonathan
Date of Award: 2023
Depositing User: Theses Team
Unique ID: glathesis:2023-84021
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 09 Jan 2024 10:50
Last Modified: 09 Jan 2024 11:52
URI: https://theses.gla.ac.uk/id/eprint/84021
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