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Neighbourhood green space, social environment and mental health: an examination in four European cities



This study examines the relationship between neighbourhood green space, the neighbourhood social environment (social cohesion, neighbourhood attachment, social contacts), and mental health in four European cities.


The PHENOTYPE study was carried out in 2013 in Barcelona (Spain), Stoke-on-Trent (United Kingdom), Doetinchem (The Netherlands), and Kaunas (Lithuania). 3771 adults living in 124 neighbourhoods answered questions on mental health, neighbourhood social environment, and amount and quality of green space. Additionally, audit data on neighbourhood green space were collected. Multilevel regression analyses examined the relation between neighbourhood green space and individual mental health and the influence of neighbourhood social environment.


Mental health was only related to green (audit) in Barcelona. The amount and quality of neighbourhood green space (audit and perceived) were related to social cohesion in Doetinchem and Stoke-on-Trent and to neighbourhood attachment in Doetinchem. In all four cities, mental health was associated with social contacts.


Neighbourhood green was related to mental health only in Barcelona. Though neighbourhood green was related to social cohesion and attachment, the neighbourhood social environment seems not the underlying mechanism for this relationship.

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On behalf of the PHENOTYPE Consortium, the field workers Magdalena van den Berg, Gemma Hurst, Margarita Triguero-Mas and Sandra Andrusaityte, are gratefully acknowledged. We thank Peter Spreeuwenberg (NIVEL) for his advice on the statistical analysis.

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Correspondence to Annemarie Ruijsbroek.

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The work was supported by the European Community’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007–2013) [Grant Agreement No: 282,996].

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This article does not contain any studies with animals performed by any of the authors. All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

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Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Ruijsbroek, A., Mohnen, S.M., Droomers, M. et al. Neighbourhood green space, social environment and mental health: an examination in four European cities. Int J Public Health 62, 657–667 (2017).

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  • Neighbourhood
  • Green
  • Social environment
  • Mental health