Several recent reviews have provided evidence of the health benefits of contact with green space. But evidence of health inequities relating to access to natural environments in ethnic minority groups is limited.

This study explores how perceptions of urban green space impact health across black and minority ethnic (BME) groups in England. A May 2009 survey asked about demographic characteristics, health, level of physical activity, and perceptions of their social environment, neighborhood and local green space. Analyses identified three distinct general health segments: “very good” (people of Indian origin), “good” (white British), and “poor” (people of African-Caribbean, Bangladeshi, Pakistani origin and other BME groups).

The first two groups rate their neighbourhoods more positively than the third. People of Indian origin feel greater levels of belonging and trust, and less loneliness, than the other groups, and are most likely to visit their local urban green space. People in the lowest health group are less satisfied with the neighbourhood environment and urban green space quality, and much less likely to visit urban green space in winter and summer.

The study found perceived quality of the neighbourhood was a consistent predictor of general health across all groups. Health was far more likely to be predicted by perception and use of urban green space in the lowest health group than in other groups. This suggests health policy needs to better understand how to use urban green space in fostering positive health behaviours in these groups.

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