Increased urban greenness associated with improved mental health among middle-aged and older adults of the Canadian Longitudinal Study on Aging (CLSA) Academic Article uri icon

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    Some studies suggest that residential surrounding greenness is associated with improved mental health. Few of these studies have focussed on middle-aged and older adults, explored the modifying effects of social determinants of health, or accounted for the extent to which individuals interact with their neighbourhood environments.


    We analysed cross-sectional data collected from 26,811 urban participants of the Canadian Longitudinal Study of Aging who were between 45 and 86 years of age. Participants provided details on socioeconomic characteristics, health behaviours, and their frequency of neighbourhood interactions. The Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI), a measure of greenness, was assigned to participants' residential addresses at a buffer distance of 500 m. Four self-reported measures of mental health were considered: The Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D-10; short scale), past diagnosis of clinical depression, perceptions of mental health, and the Satisfaction with Life Scale (SWLS). Regression models were used to describe associations between greenness and these outcomes, and spline models were fit to characterize the exposure-response function between greenness and CES-D-10 scores. Stratified analyses evaluated whether associations varied by sociodemographic status.


    In adjusted models, we observed a 5% (Odds Ratio (OR) = 0.95; 95% CI = 0.90, 0.99) reduced odds of depressive symptoms in relation to an interquartile range increase of NDVI (0.06) within a 500 m buffer of the participant's residence. Similarly, we found an inverse association with a self-reported clinical diagnosis of depression (OR = 0.97; 95% CI = 0.92-1.01). Increases in surrounding greenness were associated with improved perceptions of mental health, and the SWLS. Our spline analyses found that beneficial effects between greenness and the CES-D-10 were strongest among those of lower income.


    These findings suggest that residential greenness has mental health benefits, and that interventions to increase urban greenness can help reduce social inequalities in mental health.


publication date

  • April 2022