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Papers of the Week

2020 May 08

Environ Res


Exposure to greenspaces could reduce the high global burden of pain.


Stanhope J, Breed MF, Weinstein P
Environ Res. 2020 May 08; 187:109641.
PMID: 32447087.


Painful conditions are among the leading causes of years lived with disability, and may increase following the coronavirus pandemic, which has led to temporary closure of some healthcare services for people with chronic pain. To reduce this burden, novel, cost-effective and accessible interventions are required. We propose that greenspace exposure may be one such intervention. Drawing on evidence from neuroscience, physiology, microbiology, and psychology, we articulate how and why exposure to greenspaces could improve pain outcomes and reduce the high global burden of pain. Greenspace exposure potentially provides opportunities to benefit from known or proposed health-enhancing components of nature, such as environmental microbiomes, phytoncides, negative air ions, sunlight, and the sights and sounds of nature itself. We review the established and potential links between these specific exposures and pain outcomes. While further research is required to determine possible causal links between greenspace exposure and pain outcomes, we suggest that there is already sufficient evidence to help reduce the global burden of pain by improving access and exposure to quality greenspaces.