Park availability and major depression in individuals with chronic conditions: Is there an association in urban India?

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Abstract

Green space exposure has been positively correlated with better mental-health indicators in several high income countries, but has not been examined in low- and middle-income countries undergoing rapid urbanization. Building on a study of mental health in adults with a pre-existing chronic condition, we examined the association between park availability and major depression among 1208 adults surveyed in Delhi, India. Major depression was measured using the Mini International Neuropsychiatric Interview. The ArcGIS platform was used to quantify park availability indexed as (i) park distance from households, (ii) area of the nearest park; and within one km buffer area around households - the (iii) number and (iv) total area of all parks. Mixed-effects logistic regression models adjusted for socio-demographic characteristics indicated that relative to residents exposed to the largest nearest park areas (tertile 3), the odds [95% confidence interval] of major depression was 3.1 [1.4–7.0] times higher among residents exposed to the smallest nearest park areas (tertile 1) and 2.1 [0.9–4.8] times higher in residents with mid-level exposure (tertile 2). There was no statistically significant association between other park variables tested and major depression. We hypothesized that physical activity in the form of walking, perceived stress levels and satisfaction with the neighborhood environment may have mediating effects on the association between nearest park area and major depression. We found no significant mediation effects for any of our hypothesized variables. In conclusion, our results provide preliminary and novel evidence from India that availability of large parks in the immediate neighborhood positively impacts mental well-being of individuals with pre-existing chronic conditions, at the opportune time when India is embarking on the development of sustainable cities that aim to promote health through smart urban design – one of the key elements of which is the inclusion of urban green spaces.

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