Changes in the frequency and experiences of visits to green space following restrictions on movement during the COVID-19 pandemic: A nationally representative cross-sectional study of UK adults.
Other authors: Jonathan R Olsen, Natalie Nicholls, Richard Mitchell
Aim The health impacts of contact with green spaces are well studied, with green space previously being found to positively influence health and well-being. However, inequalities in green space visitation are prevalent. Restrictions on movement enforced due to the COVID-19 pandemic could have exacerbated the existing inequalities regarding who visits green space. Therefore, this study aimed to explore how restrictions on movement have changed the frequency and experiences of visits to green space in the United Kingdom (UK) and how these differed by individual-level demographic and socio-economic characteristics.
Methods A nationally representative cross-sectional survey was administered through YouGov following restrictions on movement, with 2,252 UK respondents between 30th April-1st May 2020. Data were collected on the frequency of visits and experiences within green space, including missing social interaction, increased physical activity, and feeling greater mental health benefits in green space. Demographic information was collected on sex, age, ethnicity, social grade and dog ownership. Associations between specific outcome variables and predictors were assessed using weighted binary logistic regression models (reported as odds ratios, OR) and multinomial logistic regression models (reported as predicted probabilities, PP), and interactions were explored.
Results Overall, 63% of respondents reported a decrease in visitations following restrictions on movement. Lower social grade respondents were less likely to visit green space before and after restrictions were enforced (OR:0.35 (95% CI:0.24-0.51); OR:0.77 (95% CI:0.63-0.95)). Older respondents (65+) were less likely than middle age (25-64) respondents to have visited green space following restrictions (OR:0.79 (95% CI:0.63-0.98)). Female respondents were more likely than males to agree that green space benefitted their mental health more (PP:0.70 vs 0.59) and that they missed social interaction in green space (PP:0.58 vs 0.45) following restrictions.
Conclusion We found that inequalities were still prevalent, with lower social grade respondents being less likely to have visited green space before and after restrictions on movement compared to higher social grade respondents. The inequalities may have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and restrictions on movement. Further investigation is required to determine how these patterns change through the different stages of the COVID-19 pandemic in the UK.