Dr. Matthew Browning

Clemson University, United States

Invited Speech: Where and when green space matters most for our health?

Biography:

Associate Professor, Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism Management
Director, Virtual Reality & Nature Lab
Clemson University, United States

Dr. Browning's 15-year research career encompasses three domains: nature, health, and virtual reality. He directs the Virtual Reality & Nature Lab (VRN) at Clemson University, where he is an Associate Professor in Parks, Recreation & Tourism Management. The VRN researches the therapeutic effects of both physical and simulated environments on human health and looks for ways to evaluate and enhance the frequency, richness, and meaningfulness of human-nature interactions. Dr. Browning has published over 75 peer-reviewed articles and ranks among the top 15 most productive/cited scholars on nature and health based on PubMed metrics.

Abstract:

Demographic and environmental factors likely moderate the relationship between human health and nature. These factors may influence how nature-based interventions and policies impact population health. This talk summarizes the findings from our recently published reviews on effect modification by urbanicity, sex/gender, socioeconomic status (SES), and race.

Findings before the pandemic were extracted from April 2019 searches in five databases. We found 37 articles that modification by urbanicity, 62 that examined sex/gender, and 90 that examined SES/race. Regarding urbanicity, three times as many studies showed stronger associations for more urban areas than less urban areas. Associations for more urban areas were strongest for cardiovascular-related, birth, and mortality outcomes and greenspace measured within 500-m. Regarding sex/gender, most analyses found stronger associations for women than men. Associations for women were strongest for obesity-related outcomes and mortality, greenness vs. parks, and greenspace measured within 500-m. Regarding SES/race, studies suggested that lower-SES people showed stronger associations than more affluent people, particularly concerning parks vs. greenness. No notable differences were found between racial/ethnic groups.

Findings during the pandemic were retrieved from articles published between March 2020 to December 2021 using three databases. We found four articles that examined effect modification by sex/gender, seven that examined SES, and three that examined race. These articles reported disparate findings and, in most cases, no considerable effect modification.

Urban dwellers, lower-SES populations, and women may benefit more from nature contact than their counterparts, but the pandemic likely changed people’s differential use and derived benefits of greenspace. Longitudinal and experimental studies are needed to verify the robustness of these conclusions. Still, they support the potential value of overcoming health disparities through nature-based interventions and policies for some vulnerable populations.

Abstract

Dr. Matthew Browning

Demographic and environmental factors likely moderate the relationship between human health and nature. These factors may influence how nature-based interventions and policies impact population health. This talk summarizes the findings from our recently published reviews on effect modification by urbanicity, sex/gender, socioeconomic status (SES), and race.

Findings before the pandemic were extracted from April 2019 searches in five databases. We found 37 articles that modification by urbanicity, 62 that examined sex/gender, and 90 that examined SES/race. Regarding urbanicity, three times as many studies showed stronger associations for more urban areas than less urban areas. Associations for more urban areas were strongest for cardiovascular-related, birth, and mortality outcomes and greenspace measured within 500-m. Regarding sex/gender, most analyses found stronger associations for women than men. Associations for women were strongest for obesity-related outcomes and mortality, greenness vs. parks, and greenspace measured within 500-m. Regarding SES/race, studies suggested that lower-SES people showed stronger associations than more affluent people, particularly concerning parks vs. greenness. No notable differences were found between racial/ethnic groups.

Findings during the pandemic were retrieved from articles published between March 2020 to December 2021 using three databases. We found four articles that examined effect modification by sex/gender, seven that examined SES, and three that examined race. These articles reported disparate findings and, in most cases, no considerable effect modification.

Urban dwellers, lower-SES populations, and women may benefit more from nature contact than their counterparts, but the pandemic likely changed people’s differential use and derived benefits of greenspace. Longitudinal and experimental studies are needed to verify the robustness of these conclusions. Still, they support the potential value of overcoming health disparities through nature-based interventions and policies for some vulnerable populations.