Trees and human health: building the evidence base

Frumkin, H., 2005, Trees and human health: building the evidence base, in: Gallis, C.T., ‘Forests, trees, and human health and well-being’, Siokis, Thessaloniki

  • Author : Frumkin, H.
  • Year : 2005
  • Published in Book : Forests, trees, and human health and well-being
  • Pages : 7-20
  • Abstract in English : There is evidence that some kinds of environmental exposures, including contact with trees, may have positive health effects. This paper contributes to a discussion by reviewing the potentials benefits of trees for human health and well being. The question asked is how do we know about these benefits? Various kinds of evidence of health effects are discussed, and the field of clinical epidemiology, the principal tool in evidence-based medicine is introduced. The author want to propose marriage-making the case that clinical epidemiology can and should be applied to dendrology and forestry, to investigate systematically the human health benefits of contact with trees. We need to establish a tradition of health research within the community of scientists interested in trees and other forms of nature contact. This tradition is strikingly absent now. A search of medical data reveals virtually no empirical studies of health benefits of trees. This research would study well-defined populations with specific, well-defined health conditions, recruited in large numbers to achieve a high level of statical power. Anecdotal experience, common sense, evolutionary theory, and some empirical evidence suggest that contact with nature, including contact with trees, confers health benefits. But there is very little rigorous evidence of this association. At this time we can only offer limited data-based recommendations about what kinds of tree contact will be beneficial, among which patients, which medical conditions, and under what circumstances. A collaboration between tree researches and clinical epidemiologists offers great promise for filling these data gaps, though well designed, carefully executed studies. Such research will deepen our understanding of the human relationship with trees, increase the reverence we feel for nature, and help us improve human health
  • Comments/Notes : KEYWORDS: trees, urban forestry, health, well being, research, clinical epidemiology. (See also: Pretty, J. 2005 in this database!).