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How can we operationalize the promotion and evaluation of nature-related ‘green’ health care within a One Health perspective?

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  09 December 2022

Hans Keune*
Affiliation:
University of Antwerp, Chair Care and the Natural Environment, Antwerpen, Belgium
*
Author for correspondence: Hans Keune, Email: hans.keune@uantwerpen.be
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Extract

The healthcare sector has proven to be supportive in stimulating health through contact with nature (Robinson and Breed, 2019; Kondo et al., 2020). Despite the positive practice examples, we see several challenges. There is no clear consensus or common understanding on quality assurance and health impact assessment of green care: there still is a wide range of approaches within different health expert communities and contexts, either with or without some form of qualified support such as coaching. As there is no ‘one size’ prescription fit for all, green care needs to be tailored to individual characteristics and circumstances, both of which are dynamic, e.g., in an environmental sense due to climate change, or related to socio-cultural dynamics (Beute et al., 2020a,b; Superior Health Council Belgium 2021). Sustainable health-related nature contact is not always easy to achieve especially when there is no follow-up with either healthcare professionals or other supporting organizations through social prescription. Accessibility of natural areas is often quite unequally distributed, with the more vulnerable often benefitting least, especially in urbanized areas. Another challenge is to achieve a reciprocal health relationship with nature: a stronger connection with nature and caring for nature helps to sustain a positive healthy relationship (O’Brien et al., 2010; Kurt et al., 2018), which may also contribute to nature conservation in a One Health perspective. As such, the healthcare sector can act as ambassadors for ‘One Healthy’ natural environments.

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This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution and reproduction, provided the original article is properly cited.
Copyright
© The Author(s), 2022. Published by Cambridge University Press

Context

The healthcare sector has proven to be supportive in stimulating health through contact with nature (Robinson and Breed, Reference Robinson and Breed2019; Kondo et al., Reference Kondo, Oyekanmi, Gibson, South, Bocarro and Aaron Hipp2020). Despite the positive practice examples, we see several challenges. There is no clear consensus or common understanding on quality assurance and health impact assessment of green care: there still is a wide range of approaches within different health expert communities and contexts, either with or without some form of qualified support such as coaching. As there is no ‘one size’ prescription fit for all, green care needs to be tailored to individual characteristics and circumstances, both of which are dynamic, e.g., in an environmental sense due to climate change, or related to socio-cultural dynamics (Beute et al., Reference Beute, Andreucci, Lammel, Davies, Glanville, Keune, Marselle, O’Brien, Olszewska-Guizzo, Remmen, Russo and de Vries2020a,b; Superior Health Council Belgium 2021). Sustainable health-related nature contact is not always easy to achieve especially when there is no follow-up with either healthcare professionals or other supporting organizations through social prescription. Accessibility of natural areas is often quite unequally distributed, with the more vulnerable often benefitting least, especially in urbanized areas. Another challenge is to achieve a reciprocal health relationship with nature: a stronger connection with nature and caring for nature helps to sustain a positive healthy relationship (O’Brien et al., Reference O’Brien, Townsend and Ebden2010; Kurt et al., Reference Kurt, Calestani, Chan, Eser, Keune, Muraca, O’Brien, Potthast, Voget-Kleschin and Wittmer2018), which may also contribute to nature conservation in a One Health perspective. As such, the healthcare sector can act as ambassadors for ‘One Healthy’ natural environments.

We invite papers related to nature-related ‘green’ health care One Health operationalization challenges:

  • How can we operationalize nature-related ‘green’ health care within a One Health perspective? Case studies.

  • How can we evaluate quality of nature-related ‘green’ health care within a One Health perspective? Environmental health impact assessment.

  • How to weigh scientific and other evidence on nature-related ‘green’ health care within a One Health perspective?

  • How to deal with a multi-level and multi-stakeholder green healthcare governance perspective?

  • How to organize nature-related ‘green’ health care science – policy – society interfaces in a One Health perspective?

  • How to (co-)design nature-related ‘green’ healthcare decision support?

  • How ethics and inclusivity should envision nature-related ‘green’ health care in a One Health perspective.

  • How can actors be supported to avoid the fallacy of an ad hoc reductionist response to the complexity of nature – healthcare linkages?

How to contribute to this question

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Competing interests

The author(s) declare none.

References

Beute, F, Andreucci, MB, Lammel, A, Davies, Z, Glanville, J, Keune, H, Marselle, M, O’Brien, LA, Olszewska-Guizzo, A, Remmen, R, Russo, A and de Vries, S (2020a) Types and characteristics of urban and peri-urban green spaces having an impact on human mental health and wellbeing. EKLIPSE report https://eklipse.eu/wp-content/uploads/website_db/Request/Mental_Health/EKLIPSE_HealthReport-Green_Final-v2-Digital.pdf Google Scholar
Beute, F, Davies, Z, de Vries, S, Lammel, A, Glanville, J, Keune, H, Marselle, M, O’Brien, LA, Olszewska-Guizzo, A, Remmen, R, Russo, A and Andreucci, MB. (2020b) Types and characteristics of urban and peri-urban blue spaces having an impact on human mental health and wellbeing. EKLIPSE report https://eklipse.eu/wp-content/uploads/website_db/Request/Mental_Health/EKLIPSE_Health-BlueReport-Appendix_Digital.pdf Google Scholar
Kurt, J, Calestani, M, Chan, KMA, Eser, U, Keune, H, Muraca, B, O’Brien, L, Potthast, T, Voget-Kleschin, L and Wittmer, H (2018) Caring for nature matters: a relational approach for understanding nature’s contributions to human well-being. Curr Opin Environ Sustain, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cosust.2018.10.009.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Kondo, MC, Oyekanmi, KO, Gibson, A, South, EC, Bocarro, J and Aaron Hipp, J (2020) Nature prescriptions for health: a review of evidence and research opportunities. Int J Environ Res Public Health 17, 4213.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
O’Brien, L, Townsend, M and Ebden, M (2010) ‘Doing something positive’: volunteers’ experiences of the well-being benefits derived from practical conservation activities in nature. Voluntas 21, 525545.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Robinson, JM, and Breed, MF (2019) Green prescriptions and their co-benefits: integrative strategies for public and environmental health. Challenges 10, 9.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Superior Health Council Belgium (2021) Green and blue cities: nature and human health in an urban setting, https://www.health.belgium.be/en/report-9436-green-and-blue-cities Google Scholar