Online Program

Nature Promotes Health: Findings from a survey of public health providers

Monday, November 2, 2015 : 11:30 a.m. - 11:50 a.m.

Nooshin Razani, MD MPH, Ambulatory Department, UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital Oakland, Oakland, CA
Jodi Stookey, PhD, Maternal, Child & Adolescent Health, San Francisco Department of Public Health, San Francisco, CA
Laura Brainin-Rodriguez, MPH MS RD, San Francisco Department of Public Health, San Francisco, CA
George Rutherford, MD, AM, Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of California, San Francisco
Curtis Chan, MD, MPH, Medical Director Maternal, Child and Adolescent Health, San Francisco Department of Public Health, San Francisco
Introduction: APHA recently adopted a policy to improve health and wellness through access to nature. This study aims to describe current beliefs and practices of health department staff about nature in order to inform trainings, resources and other policy implementation. Methods: A division of the San Francisco Department of Public Health received an anonymous, cross-sectional survey. Questions assessed knowledge, attitudes, and practices regarding 1) nature as a health intervention, and 2) conditions that can benefit from nature such as physical inactivity, stress, and social isolation. Results: 106 (64% of staff) responded. Sixty percent felt knowledgeable about physical benefits of nature, 61% about mental health benefits, and 44% about social benefits. Twenty-five percent felt familiar with a specific walk in nature they could recommend. Eighty-five percent agreed that clients would improve health by going to parks; 15% agreed that their clients currently visit parks. Fourty-four percent currently screen patients for physical activity, 45% for stress, and 44% for social isolation. Seven percent currently recommend a visit to a park to enjoy nature. Twenty-five percent agreed that their patients feel parks are welcoming to low-income and ethnic groups. Twenty percent thought their clients would follow the recommendation to go to a park. Conclusions: Staff believe clients can benefit from nature, but require training about specific health indications for which to screen and refer, and training about which specific parks or nature to refer to. Barriers to nature will need to be addressed when training public health staff as they expressed low confidence that indigent patients feel welcome in parks, or will follow through on recommendations to be in nature. Future research should delineate how public health systems can extend nature, a low-cost community public health resource, to the highest need populations.

Learning Areas:

Chronic disease management and prevention
Conduct evaluation related to programs, research, and other areas of practice
Implementation of health education strategies, interventions and programs
Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs
Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
Describe current beliefs and practices of a health department staff regarding nature in order to inform APHA policy implementation.

Keyword(s): Preventive Medicine, Built Environment

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have been principal or co-principal of studies focused on preventive health. Among my scientific interests has been greenspace and health.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.

Back to: 3146.0: Nature and Human Health