Health activities

Which types and components of urban and peri-urban blue/green spaces have a significant impact on human mental health and mental well-being?

This request was initially put to EKLIPSE by the Expert Working Group Biodiversity & Health of the  3rd French Plan on Health and Environment (PNSE3) – Ministry in charge of the Environment (MTES), France. 
 
Requesters: Expert Working Group Biodiversity & Health, 3rd National Action Plan on Health and 
Environment (PNSE3) – Ministry in charge of the Environment (MTES), France
Date request received: 27/09/2016
Date of first meeting with requesters, EKLIPSE KCB-Health group and Expert Methods Group: 15/02/2017
Call for Knowledge: March –April 2017
Call for Experts: September-October 2017 
Expected deadline for deliverables: 18 months, end of 2018
 
Background and call
For several years, papers have been published about the positive impact of greenness on health, including some synthesis and systematic reviews. Yet, none of them has so far addressed the question of the type of habitats and components of such habitats that have a significant (and preferably positive) effect on mental health and psychological well-being. This is important to be able to provide recommendations to designers and managers of green and blue space in and around cities. This request, brought to EKLIPSE by the French Ministry in charge of the Environment and supported by different European countries, will be addressed by a group of experts selected by EKLIPSE. They work will officially start on November 14th, 2017 and should end in December 2018. 
 
In order to refine the request, the following scoping activities were carried out before the Call for Experts was launched: 
a. Literature scoping in order to identify already existing publication/projects/reports on the 
request, with a special focus on existing synthesis
b. Call for Knowledge open and public call in order to identify existing knowledge on the request  
c. Evaluation of the policy and stakeholder relevance via bilateral telephone interviews, personal meetings and email requests to ensure the policy relevance of the request detailed below and to refine the request.
 
The resulting Document of Work (DoW) describes the results of the scoping activities as well as the background of the request and was the basis for the Call for Experts.
 
Based on the results of the discussion between the KCB and the requesters, and the Call for Knowledge, it was agreed to refine the request question, to target mental health and psychological well-being and omit physical health (unless linked to mental health in existing research). Psychological disorders were also included in the scope of the request, but indoor greenness (houses, workplaces) would not be considered. 
 
The requester has a specific interest in positive impacts in order to generate recommendations for the design and management of green and blue spaces in cities or nearby neighbourhoods, and initially required a systematic review approach. 
 
The EKLIPSE Expert Methods Group and the KCB-Health group identified five appropriate knowledge synthesis methods, including the Cochrane-style systematic review, solution scanning, meta-analysis, rapid evidence assessment and causal chain analysis, which could be integrated to achieve optimum results (see the DoW).
Therefore, EKLIPSE launched a Call for Experts No.2/August 2017 to invite scientists, policy-makers, practitioners and other societal actors to assess and synthesize relevant knowledge related to the types and characteristics (components) of urban and peri-urban natural spaces (blue and green) that have significant impact on human mental health and mental well-being. Read more about the Health Expert Working Group here.
 
Process
The next step is for the Expert Working Group to develop the DoW into a Protocol, including the scientific aspect of a thorough literature search and possible appraisal. Several methods have been identified to achieve the synthesis (or assessment of current knowledge), from a systematic review (the most robust but demanding approach) to a rapid evidence assessment, including a Causal Chain Analysis and possibly a Solution-scanning process to list all possible management interventions.