Understanding Health Outcomes from Exposure to Blue Space Resources: Towards a Mixed Methods Framework for Analysis

Megan J. Grace, Jen Dickie, Phil Bartie, Caroline Brown, David M. Oliver*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

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With healthcare systems facing growing pressure from ageing populations and associated complex care needs, attention is increasingly being focused on sustainable strategies to improve health outcomes across populations. Encouraging access to natural environments is one form of preventative public health strategy that has been shown to lead to improved physical and mental health outcomes at the population level. A significant body of research has documented the health benefits of accessing a wide range of natural environments, including green space and coastal areas. However, freshwater resources, or inland blue spaces, have received less attention in the field of human–environment interactions. This critical review highlights current research opportunities for developing rich and nuanced insight into inland blue space experiences. Future research must take steps to account for the dynamic and unique nature of inland blue spaces through the application of a wide range of flexible and sensitive research methodologies alongside the application of broader mixed methods research approaches. To effectively utilise inland blue spaces as public health resources, it is vital that research captures the influence of temporal changes on blue space interactions and considers the overarching impact of context-specific factors. Addressing current research gaps in combination with advancing research methodologies offers the potential to consolidate inland blue space findings and create a robust evidence base for the implementation of effective public health policies.

Original languageEnglish
Article number135
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 14 Nov 2023


  • blue health
  • blue–green space
  • mixed methods research
  • public health
  • wellbeing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nature and Landscape Conservation
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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