Currently there is evidence to support that living near and regularly visiting surface bodies of water (i.e. blue space) is associated with better physical health, mental wellbeing, and increased levels of physical activity. Furthermore, improved access and quality of blue space infrastructure are considered key to provide sustainable benefits and reduce socioeconomic-related inequalities in health.
The aim of this project is twofold; first, to generate evidence on the cost-effectiveness of changes in blue space infrastructure to better understand the cost, mortality and morbidity effects. Second, to explore existing equity considerations in the distribution of health outcomes across population groups and regions.
Working closely with The Canal & River Trust, data will be collected for different geographical areas, which will be matched with comparison sites based on size and demographic characteristics, to observe changes in outcomes. Our goal is to support policy-making and inform prioritisation of investment through knowledge co-production.
Lead researcher: Ms Humera Sultan
COVID-19 has highlighted the importance of green spaces for population physical activity, health and wellbeing. Despite increasing evidence for the relationship between green space and wellbeing, there is insufficient economic evidence to justify investment in these spaces as part of a population-wide prevention programme to help boost physical activity, promote quality of life and wellbeing, and save long term health and social care costs. Given the multi-sectoral nature of how green spaces are developed and maintained, tracking the flow of resources and resulting impact from investments is complex. This workstream forms part of a NIHR pre-doctoral fellowship awarded to Ms Humera Sultan with the aim of developing a competitive PhD fellowship application to work with all stakeholders within green space to justify investment. This is an area of priority for local authorities to ‘build back better’ and crucially ‘build back fairer’ following the COVID-19 pandemic. This work will consider cost-effectiveness, equity, and affordability of investments within the green space context.