Preprint Article Version 1 Preserved in Portico This version is not peer-reviewed

Impact of Changed Use of Greenspace during COVID-19 Pandemic on Depression and Anxiety

Version 1 : Received: 13 May 2021 / Approved: 14 May 2021 / Online: 14 May 2021 (08:56:52 CEST)

A peer-reviewed article of this Preprint also exists.

Heo, S.; Desai, M.U.; Lowe, S.R.; Bell, M.L. Impact of Changed Use of Greenspace during COVID-19 Pandemic on Depression and Anxiety. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18, 5842. Heo, S.; Desai, M.U.; Lowe, S.R.; Bell, M.L. Impact of Changed Use of Greenspace during COVID-19 Pandemic on Depression and Anxiety. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18, 5842.

Journal reference: Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18, 5842
DOI: 10.3390/ijerph18115842

Abstract

The COVID-19 pandemic has had devastating consequences for health, social, and economic domains, but what has received far less focus is the effect on people’s relationship to vital ecological supports, including access to greenspace. We assessed patterns of greenspace use in relation to individual and environmental factors and their relationship with experiencing psychological symptoms under the pandemic. We conducted an online survey recruiting participants from social media for adults in Korea for September–December 2020. The survey collected data on demographics, patterns of using greenspace during the pandemic, and major depression (MD) and generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) symptoms. The Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9) and the Generalized Anxiety Disorder 2-item (GAD-2) were applied to identify probable cases of MD and GAD. A logistic regression model assessed the association decreased visits to greenspace after the outbreak compared to 2019 and probable MD and GAD. Among the 322 survey participants, prevalence of probable MD and GAD were 19.3% and 14.9%, respectively. High rates of probable MD (23.3%) and GAD (19.4%) were found among persons currently having job-related and financial issues. Of the total participants, 64.9% reported decreased visits to greenspace after the COVID-19 outbreak. Persons with decreased visits to greenspace had 2.06 higher odds (95% CI: 0.91, 4.67) of probable MD at the time of the survey than persons whose visits to greenspace increased or did not change. Findings suggest that barriers to greenspace use could deprive people of mental health benefits and affect mental health during pandemic; an alternative explanation is that those experiencing poor mental health may be less likely to visit greenspaces during pandemic. This implies the need of adequate interventions on greenspace uses under an outbreak especially focusing on how low-income populations may be more adversely affected by a pandemic and its policy responses.

Subject Areas

Greenspace; mental health; SARS-CoV-2; pandemic; South Korea; social determinants of mental health; intervention

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