International Journal of Public Health

, Volume 55, Issue 1, pp 59–69 | Cite as

Landscape and well-being: a scoping study on the health-promoting impact of outdoor environments

  • Andrea Abraham
  • Kathrin Sommerhalder
  • Thomas Abel



The present literature review conceptualises landscape as a health resource that promotes physical, mental, and social well-being. Different health-promoting landscape characteristics are discussed.


This article is based on a scoping study which represents a special kind of qualitative literature review. Over 120 studies have been reviewed in a five-step-procedure, resulting in a heuristic device.


A set of meaningful pathways that link landscape and health have been identified. Landscapes have the potential to promote mental well-being through attention restoration, stress reduction, and the evocation of positive emotions; physical well-being through the promotion of physical activity in daily life as well as leisure time and through walkable environments; and social well-being through social integration, social engagement and participation, and through social support and security.


This scoping study allows us to systematically describe the potential of landscape as a resource for physical, mental and social well-being. A heuristic framework is presented that can be applied in future studies, facilitating systematic and focused research approaches and informing practical public health interventions.


Landscape Well-being Health-promoting behaviour Resources Scoping study 



This literature review was partly funded by the Swiss Foundation for Landscape Conservation, the Swiss Society of Doctors for the Environment, the Swiss Federal Office of Public Health, and the Swiss Federal Office for the Environment. We express our appreciation to these organizations for making our scoping study possible.


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Copyright information

© Birkhäuser Verlag, Basel/Switzerland 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Andrea Abraham
    • 1
  • Kathrin Sommerhalder
    • 1
  • Thomas Abel
    • 1
  1. 1.Division of Social and Behavioural Health Research, Department of Social and Preventive MedicineUniversity of BernBernSwitzerland

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