• Assessing the feasibility of public engagement in a smartphone app to: improve wellbeing through nature connection and map wellbeing across urban green spaces

      McEwan, Kirsten; Richardson, Miles; Sheffield, David; Ferguson, Fiona; Brindley, Paul; University of Derby; University of Sheffield (Taylor & Francis, 2020)
      Aside from practical interventions such as providing green infrastructure to improve air quality or water contamination and reduce flooding, wellbeing interventions to increase engagement with the natural environment are one of the fastest growing ways of improving human and environmental health. This feasibility study assessed a novel Smartphone app wellbeing intervention. Over 30 days the app prompted adults, including those seeking help for a common mental health problem, to notice the good things about urban green or built spaces (control condition). Self-referral was successful with 885 people downloading the app, 435 supplying baseline data and 50 supplying post-intervention data. However, the low number of observations (M=6 per participant) indicates that 30 days is too long to remain engaged. There were significant improvements in wellbeing and nature connection, but no difference between green and built space conditions. Limitations, future recommendations regarding improving engagement and marketing to lower socio-economic status groups are discussed.
    • Shmapped: development of an app to record and promote the well-being benefits of noticing urban nature

      McEwan, Kirsten; Richardson, Miles; Brindley, Paul; Sheffield, David; Tait, Crawford; Johnson, Steve; Sutch, Hana; Ferguson, Fiona; University of Derby; University of Debry (Oxford Academic, 2019-03-05)
      The majority of research to date on the links between well-being and green spaces comes from cross-sectional studies. Shmapped is an app that allows for the collection of well-being and location data live in the field and acts as a novel dual data collection tool and well-being intervention, which prompts users to notice the good things about their surroundings. We describe the process of developing Shmapped from storyboarding, budgeting, and timescales; selecting a developer; drawing up data protection plans; and collaborating with developers and end-user testers to ultimately publishing Shmapped. The development process and end-user testing resulted in a highly functional app. Limitations and future uses of such novel dual data collection and intervention apps are discussed and recommendations are made for prospective developers and researchers.
    • A smartphone app for improving mental health through connecting with urban nature

      McEwan, Kirsten; Richardson, Miles; Sheffield, David; Ferguson, Fiona; Brindley, Paul; University of Sheffield; University of Derby (MDPI, 2019-09-12)
      In an increasingly urbanised world where mental health is currently in crisis, interventions to increase human engagement and connection with the natural environment are one of the fastest growing, most widely accessible, and cost-effective ways of improving human wellbeing. This study aimed to provide an evaluation of a smartphone app-based wellbeing intervention. In a randomised controlled trial study design, the app prompted 582 adults, including a subgroup of adults classified by baseline scores on the Recovering Quality of Life scale as having a common mental health problem (n = 148), to notice the good things about urban nature (intervention condition) or built spaces (active control). There were statistically significant and sustained improvements in wellbeing at one-month follow-up. Importantly, in the noticing urban nature condition, compared to a built space control, improvements in quality of life reached statistical significance for all adults and clinical significance for those classified as having a mental health difficulty. This improvement in wellbeing was partly explained by significant increases in nature connectedness and positive affect. This study provides the first controlled experimental evidence that noticing the good things about urban nature has strong clinical potential as a wellbeing intervention and social prescription.
    • Where the wild things are! Do urban green spaces with greater avian biodiversity promote more positive emotions in humans?

      Cameron, Ross; Brindley, Paul; Mears, Meagan; McEwan, Kirsten; Ferguson, Fiona; Sheffield, David; Jorgensen, Anna; Riley, J; Goodwick, J; Ballard, L; et al. (Elsevier, 2020-01-22)
      Urban green space can help mitigate the negative impacts of urban living and provide positive effects on citizens’ mood, health and well-being. Questions remain, however, as to whether all types of green space are equally beneficial, and if not, what landscape forms or key features optimise the desired benefits. For example, it has been cited that urban landscapes rich in wildlife (high biodiversity) may promote more positive emotions and enhance well-being. This research utilised a mobile phone App, employed to assess people’s emotions when they entered any one of 945 green spaces within the city of Sheffield, UK. Emotional responses were correlated to key traits of the individual green spaces, including levels of biodiversity the participant perceived around them. For a subsample of these green spaces, actual levels of biodiversity were assessed through avian and habitat surveys. Results demonstrated strong correlations between levels of avian biodiversity within a green space and human emotional response to that space. Respondents reported being happier in sites with greater avian biodiversity (p < 0.01, r = 0.78) and a greater variety of habitats (p < 0.02, r = 0.72). Relationships were strengthened when emotions were linked to perceptions of overall biodiversity (p < 0.001, r = 0.89). So, when participants thought the site was wildlife rich, they reported more positive emotions, even when actual avian biodiversity levels were not necessarily enhanced. The data strengthens the arguments that nature enhances well-being through positive affect, and that increased ‘engagement with nature’ may help support human health within urban environments. The results have strong implications for city planning with respect to the design, management and use of city green spaces.