Green-Blue Spaces and Mental Health: A Longitudinal Data Linkage Study

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Daniel A Thompson
Mark Nieuwenhuijsen
James White
Rebecca Lovell
Mathew White
Ronan A Lyons
Gareth Stratton
Ashley Akbari
Rebecca Geary
Ben Wheeler
Alan Watkins
Richard Fry
Francis Rowney
Amy Mizen
Sarah E Rodgers


A growing evidence base indicates health benefits are associated with access to green-blue spaces (GBS), such as beaches and parks. However, few studies have examined associations with changes in access to GBS over time.

Objectives and Approach
We have linked cross-sector data collected within Wales, United Kingdom, quarterly from 2008 to 2019, to examine the impact of GBS access on individual-level well-being and common mental health disorders (CMD). We created a longitudinal dataset of GBS access metrics, derived from satellite and administrative data sources, for 1.4 million homes in Wales. These household-level metrics were linked to individuals using the Welsh Demographic Service Dataset within the Secure Anonymised Information Linkage (SAIL) Databank. Linkage to Welsh Longitudinal General Practice data within SAIL enabled us to identify individual-level CMD over time. We also linked individual-level self-reported GBS use and well-being data from the National Survey for Wales (NSW) to routine data for cross-sectional survey participants.

We created a longitudinal cohort panel capturing all 2.84 million adults aged 16+ living in Wales between 2008 and 2019 and with a general practitioner (GP) registration. Individual-level health data and household-level environmental metrics were linked for each quarter an individual is in the study. Household addresses were linked to 97% of the cohort, creating 110+ million rows of anonymously linked cross-sector data. The cohort provides an average follow-up period of 8 years, during which 565,168 (20%) adults received at least one CMD diagnosis or symptom.

Conclusion / Implications
This example of multi-sectoral data linkage across multiple environmental and administrative data sources has created a rich data source, which we will use to
quantify the impact of changes in GBS access on individual–level CMD and well-being. This evidence will inform policy in the areas of health, planning and the environment.

Article Details

How to Cite
Thompson, D. A., Nieuwenhuijsen, M., White, J., Lovell, R., White, M., Lyons, R. A., Stratton, G., Akbari, A., Geary, R., Wheeler, B., Watkins, A., Fry, R., Rowney, F., Mizen, A. and Rodgers, S. E. (2020) “Green-Blue Spaces and Mental Health: A Longitudinal Data Linkage Study”, International Journal of Population Data Science, 5(5). doi: 10.23889/ijpds.v5i5.1616.

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