Neighborhood Nature: A Quantitative study on the links between Neighborhood Greenspace and Mental Health in the Adolescents of Oslo
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The aim of this master thesis was to examine the relationship between neighborhood greenspace and mental health in the senior high school (videregående) students of Oslo. This inquiry was prompted by reports showing an increase in the self-reported symptoms of depression in the population of interest, as well as the need to expand knowledge on the role physical environments play in predicting mental health outcomes. Previous studies on restorative environments have found associations between neighborhood greenspace and improved mental health. However, more research is needed with regards to how this relationship is moderated by one’s gender and socioeconomic status. Data from the 2015 Young in Oslo survey (N=10,255) by the Norwegian Social Research (NOVA), and geospatial data from the Urban EEA project of the Norwegian Institute of Nature Research were utilized to gain insights on the relationship between the dependent variables Depressed mood and Anxiety, background variables Gender and Family Affluence, environmental satisfaction variables Neighborhood and School satisfaction, and variables indicating neighborhood greenspace availability, specifically Average Neighborhood Greenness, Natural Cover and Tree Canopy Cover. The results indicate that there are substantial gender differences in terms of how the variables interact to predict mental health outcomes. For the male respondents, none of the neighborhood greenspace measures were significant predictors of Depressed mood and Anxiety when controlling for Family Affluence and environmental satisfaction. For the female respondents, Natural Cover and Tree Canopy Cover were significant predictors of Depressed mood and Anxiety, while Family Affluence was mediated by Neighborhood Satisfaction. Furthermore, post hoc analysis offered support that reciprocal suppression was present between the neighborhood greenspace measures and Neighborhood Satisfaction for the female group. The suppression effect was not observed in the male group. Methodological issues are addressed in this thesis, as well as presenting suggestions for further research; which includes improvements in the operationalization of the adolescents’ immediate environment, and other currently available data which can be used in future studies investigating the different pathways between greenspace and health outcomes for the adolescents of Oslo.
Master i International Social Welfare and Health Policy