Is prosocial behaviour a missing link between green space quality and child health-related outcomes?
Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology
Background: This study aimed to investigate prosocial behaviour—those behaviours that benefit others or enhance relationships with others—as a mediator of the associations between green space quality and child health-related outcomes (physical activity, mental health, and health-related quality of life (HRQOL)). Methods: This study involved data from 4983 children with 10-year follow-up (2004–2014) retrieved from the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children. Green space quality (the exposure), prosocial behaviour (the candidate mediator), and child health-related outcomes were assessed biennially based on caregiver reports. Causal mediation analysis was used, with four mediation models developed for each outcome. Results: Mediation by prosocial behaviour appeared in the late childhood mediation model with higher mediation proportions reported compared to models of earlier and middle childhood. Prosocial behaviour had moderate mediation consistency for the association between green space quality and physical activity enjoyment, but no mediation was evident for other physical activity variables. Prosocial behaviour had low mediation consistency for child mental health (internalising and externalising subscales). Similarly, low mediation consistency of prosocial behaviour was also evident for all HRQOL variables, such as physical, emotional, social, school functioning, psychosocial health, and total quality of life (QOL). Conclusion: Prosocial behaviour partially mediated the association between green space quality and child health-related outcomes (physical activity enjoyment, mental health, and HRQOL). Improving the quality of neighbourhood green space that supports the development of prosocial behaviour may result in better child health-related outcomes. Other physical activity variables might not specifically relate to social interactions, and therefore, no mediation by prosocial behaviour was apparent.
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National Health and Medical Research Council