Eugenia South's Urban 'Greening' Study Gets Worldwide Media Pickup
University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine Assistant Professor and LDI Senior Fellow Eugenia South's latest study on the health impact of "greening" vacant urban lots has garnered worldwide press attention since its release through JAMA a few days ago.
The investigation -- Effect of Greening Vacant Land on Mental Health of Community-Dwelling Adults -- found that remediation of dilapidated, overgrown and trash-strewn lots in inner-city neighborhoods significantly lowered resident's feelings of depression and poor mental health.
South, MD, MSHP, headed a research team that included LDI Senior Fellow John MacDonald, PhD, MA, a Professor of Criminology and Sociology at the Penn School of Arts and Sciences and former LDI Senior Fellow Charles Branas, now of the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health.
In its report, Penn News notes that "This latest work is believed to be the first experimental study to test changes in the mental health of residents after nearby vacant lots were greened."
Within 48 hours of its publication on the online JAMA Network Open site, the study had become a dissemination home run with stories of its findings quickly making headlines in news outlets across the U.S. as well as from London to India and China.
Widespread media pickup
Along with major articles in local news outlets like the Philadelphia Inquirer and Philadelphia Tribune, the study was featured in the web editions of WHYY and NPR radio station websites across the country, TIME magazine, US News & World Report, United Press International, MedPage Today, Yahoo News, NBC News, the London Economic, Iran Daily, IndiaTV News, the Indo-Asia News wire service, Hindustan Times, and China's XinhuaNet News network.
The study concluded that "The treatment of dilapidated physical environments can be an important tool for communities to address persistent mental health problems. These findings provide support to health care clinicians concerned with positively transforming the often chaotic and harmful environments that affect their patients. Our findings also offer evidence to policy makers interested in increasing municipal investments in the remediation of blighted urban spaces as an inexpensive and scalable way to improve mental health, particularly in low-resource neighborhoods."
South is an Assistant Professor of Emergency Medicine and a former Penn Robert Wood Johnson Clinical Scholar who earned her Masters of Science in Health Policy in 2012. In another underway pilot research project funded by LDI, she is currently investigating if simple home repairs can improve health among low-income residents of HUD housing in Philadelphia.