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More green space is linked to less stress in deprived communities: Evidence from salivary cortisol patterns

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


  • Catharine Ward Thompson
  • Jenny Roe
  • Peter A Aspinall
  • Richard Mitchell
  • Angela Clow
  • David Miller


Publication details

JournalLandscape and urban planning
DatePublished - 15 Apr 2012
Issue number3
Number of pages9
Pages (from-to)221–229
Original languageEnglish


Green space has been associated with a wide range of health benefits, including stress reduction, but much pertinent evidence has relied on self reported
health indicators or experiments in artificially controlled environmental conditions. Little research has been reported using ecologically valid objective
measures with participants in their everyday, residential settings. This paper describes the results of an exploratory study (n = 25) to establish whether salivary cortisol can act as a biomarker for variation in stress levels which may be associated with varying levels of exposure to green spaces, and whether
recruitment and adherence to the required, unsupervised, salivary cortisol sampling protocol within the domestic setting could be achieved in a highly deprived urban population. Self reported measures of stress and general wellbeing were also captured, allowing exploration of relationships between cortisol, wellbeing and exposure to green space close to home. Results indicate significant relationships between self reported stress (P < 0.01), diurnal patterns of cortisol secretion (P < 0.05), and quantity of green space
in the living environment. Regression analysis indicates percentage of green space in the living environment is a significant (P < 0.05) and independent predictor of the circadian cortisol cycle, in addition
to self reported physical activity (P < 0.02). Results also show that compliance with the study protocol was good. We conclude that salivary cortisol measurement offers considerable potential for exploring
relationships between wellbeing and green space and discuss how this ecologically valid methodology can be developed to confirm and extend findings in deprived city areas to illuminate why provision of
green space close to home might enhance health.

    Research areas

  • Green space , Deprivation, Stress , Salivary cortisol, Residential environment

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