Abstract: Urban waterways are under-utilised assets which can provide benefits ranging from climate-change mitigation and adaptation (e.g. reducing flood risks) to promoting health and well-being in urban settings. Indeed, urban waterways provide green and blue spaces which have increasingly been associated with health benefits. The present observational study used a unique 17-year longitudinal natural experiment of canals regeneration from complete closure and dereliction in North Glasgow in Scotland, UK to explore the impact of green and blue canal assets on all-cause mortality as a widely used indicator of general health and health inequalities. Official data on deaths and socio-economic deprivation for small areas (data zones) for the period 2001-2017 were analysed. Distances between data zone population-weighted centroids to the canal were calculated to create three 500m distance buffers. Spatio-temporal associations between proximity to the canal and mortality were estimated using linear mixed models, unadjusted and adjusted for small-area measures of deprivation. The results showed an overall decrease in mortality over time (ß=-0.032, 95% CI [-0.046, -0.017]) with a closing of the gap in mortality between less and more affluent areas. The annual rate of decrease in mortality rates was largest in the 0-500m buffer zone closest to the canal (-3.12%, 95% CI [-4.50, -1.73]), with smaller decreases found in buffer zones further removed from the canal (500-1000m: -3.01%, 95% CI [-6.52, 0.62]), and 1000-1500m: -1.23%, 95% CI [-5.01, 2.71]). A similar pattern of results was found following adjustment for deprivation. The findings support the notion that regeneration of disused blue and green assets and climate adaptions can have a positive impact on health and health inequalities. Future studies are now needed using larger samples of individual-level data, including environmental, socio-economic and health variables to ascertain which specific elements of regeneration are the most effective in promoting health and health equity.
|Journal||International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health|
|Publication status||Published - 25 Jun 2020|