J Epidemiol Community Health doi:10.1136/jech.2009.104695
  • Research report

Greenspace in urban neighbourhoods and residents' health: adding quality to quantity

  1. Peter Spreeuwenberg3
  1. 1Wageningen University, Department of Communication Science, Wageningen, The Netherlands
  2. 2Alterra Wageningen UR, Landscape Centre, Wageningen, The Netherlands
  3. 3Netherlands Institute for Health Services Research (NIVEL), Utrecht, The Netherlands
  4. 4Utrecht University, Departments of Human Geography and Sociology, Utrecht, The Netherlands
  1. Correspondence to Sjerp de Vries, Alterra Wageningen UR, P.O. Box 47, Wageningen 6700 AA, The Netherlands; sjerp.devries{at}
  • Accepted 25 May 2011
  • Published Online First 29 June 2011


Background Previous research shows a positive link between the amount of green area in one's residential neighbourhood and self-reported health. However, little research has been done on the quality of the green area, as well as on quantity and quality of smaller natural elements in the streetscape. This study investigates the link between the objectively assessed quantity and quality of (1) green areas and (2) streetscape greenery on the one hand and three self-reported health indicators on the other.

Methods 80 Dutch urban neighbourhoods were selected, varying in the amount of nearby green area per dwelling, as determined by Geographic Information System analysis. The quality of green areas, as well as the quantity and quality of streetscape greenery, was assessed by observers using an audit tool. Residents of each neighbourhood were asked to complete a questionnaire on their own health (N=1641). In multilevel regression analyses, we examined the relationship between greenspace indicators and three health indicators, controlling for socio-demographic and socioeconomic characteristics.

Results Both indicators for the quantity of greenspace were positively related to all three health indicators. Quantity and quality indicators were substantially correlated in the case of streetscape greenery. Nevertheless, the quality indicators tended to have added predictive value for the health indicators, given that the quantity information was already included in the model.

Conclusions The quantity and also the quality of greenspace in one's neighbourhood seem relevant with regard to health. Furthermore, streetscape greenery is at least as strongly related to self-reported health as green areas.


  • Funding This study was supported by a grant from the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research and by the strategic research program ‘Sustainable agriculture’ (KB-04), funded by the Dutch Ministry of Agriculture, Nature Conservation and Food Quality.

  • Competing interests None declare.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

Free sample

This recent issue is free to all users to allow everyone the opportunity to see the full scope and typical content of JECH.
View free sample issue >>

Don't forget to sign up for content alerts so you keep up to date with all the articles as they are published.

Navigate This Article