Epidemiological Studies

Workpackage 3 - Epidemiological studies
Led by Regina Gražulevičienė (VDU)

Some data exist on the of the health benefits in relationship to exposure to the (green) natural outdoor environment. Research has mostly been conducted in Northwest Europe and the USA. Inconsistency and variation in indicators for green or natural space have often made it difficult to compare results from different studies.

WP3 conducts an in-depth evaluation of the natural environment in the ‘green’ and ‘blue’ study areas in Lithuania, the Netherlands, Spain and UK. To minimize the potential differences due to classification of natural space, conventional land use maps, remote sensing data and aerial photography are used. Discussions are held with volunteers and stakeholders to produce comparable classifications of the natural environment.

If feasible meta-analyses will be conducted to obtain overall summary estimates and/or test for heterogeneity in results. For the first time we will examine exposure to the natural outdoor environment and pregnant women and their offspring in all four countries. Pregnant women and the foetus are thought to be particularly sensitive to environmental pollutants and stress, with physical activity as a potentially important moderator of the natural environment-health relationship.

WP3 further examines the role of socio-economic status which have been suggested as an effect modifier for the relationship between exposure to the natural environment and health benefits. The European Community Respiratory Health Survey (ECRHS http://www.ecrhs.org/) further allows us to examine exposure to the natural outdoor environment and health effects in a range of different European cities.

The Born in Bradford study offers a unique opportunity to examine the role of ethnicity in the relationship between exposure to the natural outdoor environment and health benefits, which is often difficult because of the small proportion of ethnic minorities. Half the BiB participants are from Pakistani background, who provide information on both the mother and baby from pregnancy to early years in life. This allows for a direct effect comparison between Caucasian and Pakistani background in a similar environment.