Do physical activity, social interaction, and mental health mediate the association between green space quality and child prosocial behaviour?

Publication Name

Urban Forestry and Urban Greening


Potential pathways linking green space quality to prosocial behaviour have not been investigated so far. This study aimed to examine 15 candidate mediators of the association between green space quality and prosocial behaviour across physical activity, social interaction, health-related quality of life (HRQOL), child and caregiver mental health. This study analysed data of 4969 children aged 4−5 years that were observed for 10 years (2004–2014), retrieved from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children. Caregiver perceptions of the availability of good neighbourhood parks, play spaces, and playgrounds were used to evaluate green space quality. Prosocial behaviour was measured based on caregiver reports of the prosocial subscale from the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire. Causal mediation analysis was used to fit each candidate mediator in a single mediation model. Additional analyses were conducted to strengthen the findings by modelling green space quality, candidate mediators with child-reported prosocial behaviour. Findings from this study suggest weak evidence of physical activity mediation, with only physical activity enjoyment displaying moderate mediation consistency. Child social interaction and caregiver mental health showed low mediation consistency. In addition, moderate-to-high and low-to-high mediation consistency was found for child mental health and HRQOL indicators, respectively. Mediation by candidate mediators appeared to manifest more in late childhood. Mediation models using child-reported prosocial behaviour tended to show weaker mediation compared to caregiver-reported prosocial behaviour models. To conclude, green space quality may indirectly influence prosocial behaviour among children via several pathways. Improving the quality of neighbourhood green space may support physical activity enjoyment, social interaction, mental health among children, which in turn, may potentially foster the development of prosocial behaviour.

Open Access Status

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Funding Number


Funding Sponsor

National Health and Medical Research Council



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