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Appears in Collections:Biological and Environmental Sciences eTheses
Title: Freshwater blue space, health and well-being: a multiscale investigation
Author(s): McDougall, Craig W
Supervisor(s): Oliver, David
Quilliam, Richard
Hanley, Nick
Issue Date: 2-Aug-2022
Publisher: University of Stirling
Abstract: There is growing evidence that exposure to bodies of water or ‘blue spaces’ can result in benefits to human health and well-being. However, most blue space and health research has focused on the health and well-being impact of exposure to coastal environments and freshwater blue spaces have received significantly less research attention. Understanding the potential health and well-being benefits of freshwater blue space exposure is vitally important as more than 50% of the global population live within 1km of a body of freshwater and as freshwater and coastal environments differ significantly in their physical and hydrological properties. This thesis aimed to use multiscale and multidisciplinary approaches to quantify the health and well-being impact of access and exposure to freshwater blue space in Scotland. Both qualitative and quantitative methods were adopted, including semi-structured interviews and focus groups (qualitative) and stated preference and national scale subjective health and well-being surveying (quantitative). The key thesis findings suggest Scotland’s freshwater blue spaces are important health-promoting assets. Specifically, living in neighbourhoods with high blue space availability was associated with lower uptake of antidepressant medication and self-reported visits to freshwater blue was associated with significant improvements in mental well-being. Furthermore, loch swimming can provide a wide variety of physical, social and mental well-being benefits. The thesis contains a number of novel contributions, including the first published studies to (i) quantify the non-market value of protecting lochside environments; (ii) combine national antidepressant prescribing and freshwater blue space availability data; (iii) establish the health and well-being impacts and risks of loch swimming; and (iiii) quantify the health and well-being benefits of spending time in different types of freshwater blue (e.g. lakes, rivers and canals). Collectively, the thesis findings suggest spending time in and around freshwater blue space can provide a variety of mental health and well-being benefits. It is, therefore, recommended that promoting freshwater blue space usage and accessibility receives greater consideration in urban planning and public health policy, both in Scotland and internationally. However, it is of critical importance that policies aiming to increase freshwater blue space access and usage ensure the health and well-being benefits offered by freshwater blue space are available to all.
Type: Thesis or Dissertation

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