This study is using data sets which already exist to quantify the health and wellbeing benefits of urban blue spaces.

Despite the presence of water in virtually all urban centres across Europe, little is known about the extent of the benefits these spaces might provide. It is also unclear whether such benefits differ across European populations and environments.

Secondary data sets – large bodies of data which have already been collected – provide us with a low cost opportunity to analyse how the health and wellbeing of different European populations is affected by how close they live to environments such as coasts, rivers and lakes.



Data will be analysed from surveys covering the UK, Catalonia (Spain) and Scania (Sweden). The UK and Swedish surveys collect data on the same people at various points in time, which allows us to track the effects of environmental and social change on their state of health and wellbeing. Previous analyses of secondary data sets have used different methods and measures, and only been country-specific – making it difficult to compare findings across the whole of Europe.

The three data sets we will be using in this study have been specifically selected because they contain a number of consistent questions relating to health, wellbeing and life satisfaction. These include the General Health Questionnaire, the Short-Form Health Survey, and global Life Satisfaction. Using these measures we will be able to accurately map and estimate people’s ‘exposure’ to blue space for all three countries.

Clearly, many factors vary between European populations which may influence their environmental exposures and health and wellbeing outcomes. Fortunately, data on these elements are also consistently collected across all three surveys, allowing us to take these complicating factors into account in our analysis.

This project is being conducted by researchers working at the University of Exeter in the UK, ISGlobal in Spain, and Lund University in Sweden.