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Urban Mind: Using Smartphone Technologies to Investigate the Impact of Nature on Mental Well-Being in Real Time

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Ioannis Bakolis, Ryan Hammoud, Michael Smythe, Johanna Gibbons, Neil Davidson, Stefania Tognin, Andrea Mechelli

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)134-145
Number of pages12
JournalBIOSCIENCE
Volume68
Issue number2
Early online date10 Jan 2018
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2018

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Abstract

Existing evidence on the beneficial effects of nature on mental health comes from studies using cross-sectional designs. We developed a smartphone-based tool (Urban Mind; www.urbanmind.info) to examine how exposure to natural features within the built environment affects mental wellbeing in real-time. The tool was used to monitor 108 individuals who completed 3013 assessments over a one-week period. Significant immediate and lagged associations with mental wellbeing were found for several natural features. These associations were stronger in people with higher trait impulsivity - a psychological measure of
one’s tendency to behave with little forethought or consideration of the consequences, which is indicative of higher risk of developing mental health issues. Our investigation suggests that the benefits of nature on mental wellbeing are time-lasting and interact with an individual’s vulnerability to mental illness. These findings have potential implications from the perspectives
of global mental health as well as urban planning and design.

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