Project

Health x Nature

Goal: To better understand the dynamics that drive the relationship between nature and human health. The project explores the multidimensional perspectives that consider affiliation to nature, and how this might be used effectively to support health and wellbeing.

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Project log

Rachel C Sumner
added a research item
1. The benefits of exposure to nature for health and well-being have been demonstrated across multiple disciplines. Recent work has sought to establish one 'dose' or type of nature exposure that is universally beneficial, which has proven difficult. 2. We use the principles of psychopharmacology to look beyond the use of dose as a concept for prescribing nature. Instead, we posit a multidimensional model of bioavailability of nature to shift the focus beyond universal effects, and instead consider the relationship between health and nature as dynamic, changeable and heavily contextual. 3. We propose that the bioavailability of nature interactions is constructed through understanding route of administration, dose and concentration. 4. By delineating the mechanisms of health benefit derived from the type of behav-ioural interaction (through being, doing and living), the route of administration of nature interactions may be highly variable not just between, but also within, individuals. 5. We propose concentration as being a meeting between the subjective aspects of the individual and the subjective qualities of the nature at that specific time and place. We use a 'green equation', for mapping the processes and pathways that belie the interaction between the person and their environment. Here, the na-ture/health association as a dynamic interaction, and we operationalise this within a multidimensional construct of bioavailability. 6. We provide an overview of this testable model and summarise with preliminary evidence as well as a research agenda for the future. K E Y W O R D S bioavailability model, green space, health, human-nature interaction, nature connection, well-being
Rachel C Sumner
added a research item
A mixed method evaluation of the Nature on Prescription social prescribing programme produced by the Gloucestershire Local Nature Partnership and delivered by Gloucestershire Wildlife Trust
Rachel C Sumner
added a research item
A mixed methods evaluation of the See with Fresh Eyes programme delivered by Look Again in partnership with Create Gloucestershire. This programme was awarded a grant by the BUPA Foundation, which included commissioning this evaluation undertaken by the University of Gloucestershire.
Rachel C Sumner
added an update
The Green Ladies have submitted an application for an ESRC-IRC UK/Ireland Network Grant to develop our working looking at the nature/health relationship through the lens of universality through individuality. In collaboration with key third sector organisations across England, Wales, and Ireland, we hope to develop an intervention through co-production with key stakeholders.
 
Rachel C Sumner
added a research item
The benefits of exposure to nature for health and wellbeing have been demonstrated across multiple disciplines, with empirical data serving as a foundation for conceptual frameworks. However, with fundamental issues apparent even within the definition of what “nature” means, and a general assumption that nature will be beneficial to all in all ways, there remains inconsistencies in empirical findings. Moreover, recent work has sought to establish one dose or type of nature exposure that is universally beneficial, which has proven difficult. With this critical review we argue for a change of focus to look beyond generalised effects, and instead consider the relationship between health and nature as dynamic, changeable, and heavily contextual. We propose a theoretical framework for understanding the nature/health association as a dynamic interaction, and operationalise this within a multidimensional construct of dose to support future work in the medicalisation of nature. By delineating the mechanisms of health benefit derived from nature in terms of the type of interaction (being, doing, or living), it becomes apparent that nature interactions may be highly variable not just between but also within individuals. We describe the ability for nature interactions to be multidimensional, using dose as one element of overall bioavailability; and propose a “green equation” where health benefit is the product of a complex interaction between the individual and the environment with which they engage.
Rachel C Sumner
added a research item
1. The literature addressing the potential for nature and natural environments to reduce stress and improve health outcomes has a relative paucity of work regarding interactions with animals, particularly those that are not domestic pets. 2. The present observational study sought to understand whether a brief encounter with non-domestic animals might reduce stress and improve well-being of participants , and whether participants' nature relatedness, and their appraisals of the interaction might influence these changes. 3. Participants (N = 86, mean age = 20.8 years, 81.8% women) took part in a brief wildlife encounter at a UK safari park, walking for approximately 11 min around an enclosure with free-roaming lemurs. Heart rate, cortisol and measures of mood were taken before and after the encounter to understand whether this activity could reduce biological levels of stress and improve psychological well-being. 4. There was no decrease in participants' heart rate after their encounter but there was a statistically significant decrease in salivary cortisol. Measures of mood significantly improved immediately after the encounter. Reductions in cortisol were associated with dimensions of an individual's nature relatedness, as well as aspects of the animal encounter (number of lemurs and lemur proximity). 5. The findings contribute to parallel literature on nature-health relationships, with the addition of factors seemingly driving the interaction (individuals' nature re-latedness, and the number and proximity of the animals) providing important contributory information. The present study provides new information on how encounters with nature, particularly those involving animals, may be beneficial for health and well-being. Critically, this study was carried out in a setting where potential impact of visitors on animals is negligible, thereby demonstrating the potential for creating environments where both human and animal well-being are maximised. K E Y W O R D S biophilia, cortisol, health, human animal interaction, non-companion animals, well-being
Rachel C Sumner
added a project goal
To better understand the dynamics that drive the relationship between nature and human health. The project explores the multidimensional perspectives that consider affiliation to nature, and how this might be used effectively to support health and wellbeing.