Improving access to evidence about nature-based activities for health

 Researchers in an iCASP funded project have summarised evidence from 12 recent systematic reviews of nature-based interventions.  This interactive summary and accompanying report shows what we know, what we don’t know and why it matters.

An interactive, online tool is now available on our website to help organisations provide evidence of how the natural environment can benefit your health and wellbeing.

There is increasing interest in offering ‘Nature-based interventions’ through green social prescribing, where people using health services are supported to attend suitable activities. These are organised outdoor activities that aim to improve participants’ health, such as gardening, ecotherapy or conservation.
We’ve been working with Professor Piran White, Dr Peter CoventryDr Laura Harrison and other researchers from the University of York, who have led this exciting research project – ‘Transforming environmental research into evidence on the cultural and health benefits of green and blue space’.

The project provides evidence for how to make the most of local green and blue spaces to improve the wellbeing and resilience of people living in both urban and rural environments in Yorkshire’s cities and beyond. It will support DEFRA delivering their 25 year plan and help local authorities to deliver their environmental, climate and health commitments. It will also provide evidence needed for business cases for greener developments.

Our partners included: Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Keele University; School of Earth and Environment, University of Leeds; Humber Teaching NHS Foundation Trust and Natural England.

The project was delivered in two stages, which included two literature reviews and a series of workshops. Providers of nature-based activities, link workers, current participants in nature-based activities and potential participants took part in workshops. These were planned to find out what people thought about and how they used evidence about the effectiveness of these nature-based interventions. It can be difficult for providers and health professionals to keep up to date with the latest peer-reviewed research so it becomes hard to ‘make the case’ for these programmes and the benefits of green and blue spaces.
Learning from the workshops was used to create our interactive evidence resource and an accompanying report, which is being shared with providers and health professionals. It is also being used to improve training materials on the ‘Making Every Contact Count’ site.
The free resource includes information about the volume, quality, and strength of evidence around the benefits of interventions in green and blue spaces such as woods, meadows and parks or rivers, lakes and sea, for health and wellbeing.  

Laura and Piran will be presenting the evidence summary to the Yorkshire and Humber Planning Healthy Places Community of Improvement on the 19th September and to our iCASP Confluence in November.