UBC Faculty Research and Publications

Mental Health Outcomes in Barcelona: The Interplay between Gentrification and Greenspace Zayas-Costa, Montserrat; Cole, Helen V. S.; Anguelovski, Isabelle; Connolly, James J. T.; Bartoll, Xavier; Triguero-Mas, Margarita


Greenspace is widely related to mental health benefits, but this relationship may vary by social group. Gentrification, as linked to processes of unequal urban development and conflict, potentially impacts health outcomes. This study explores the relationships between greenspace and mental health and between gentrification and mental health associations. It also further examines gentrification as an effect modifier in the greenspace–mental health association and SES as an effect modifier in the gentrification-mental health association. We used cross-sectional Barcelona (Spain) data from 2006, which included perceived mental health status and self-reported depression/anxiety from the Barcelona Health Survey. Greenspace exposure was measured as residential access to (1) all greenspace, (2) greenways and (3) parks in 2006. Census-tract level gentrification was measured using an index including changes in sociodemographic indicators between 1991 and 2006. Logistic regression models revealed that only greenways were associated with better mental health outcomes, with no significant relationship between mental health and parks or all greenspace. Living in gentrifying neighborhoods was protective for depression/anxiety compared to living in non-gentrifying neighborhoods. However, only residents of gentrifiable census tracts benefited from the exposure to greenways. SES was not found to be an effect modifier in the association between gentrification and mental health. Future research should tackle this study’s limitations by incorporating a direct measure of displacement in the gentrification status indicator, accounting for qualitative aspects of greenspace and user’s perceptions. Gentrification may undermine the health benefits provided by greenspace interventions.

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