Everything you need to know about the project Our Outdoors

Engage with the outdoor environments you spend time in and learn about how they can affect your health and wellbeing. Take part in new and innovative research.

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A quick summary

What is ‘Our Outdoors’ about?

‘Our Outdoors’ is a citizen science project which aims to contribute to public understanding of how shared outdoor spaces can affect our health and wellbeing. The project will also explore whether specific spaces affect people’s health and wellbeing differently and if so, why?

In this project, we need people like you, to get involved and help us learn about a range of local outdoor spaces. From streets and town squares to beaches, public parks and beyond. Any spaces can be included as long as they are outside and freely open to anyone (e.g. not a private garden).

Our aims for the project

What does Our Outdoors want to achieve?

  • We want to discover the impact of built and natural shared outdoor spaces on public health and wellbeing.
  • Investigate whether outdoor spaces affect people differently and if so, why and in what ways?
  • Identify the best methods for engaging members of the public in citizen science for public health.
To achieve these aims the project will work towards answering four research questions:
  • What is the relationship between the features of shared outdoor spaces and health and wellbeing?
  • How does access to shared outdoor spaces vary according to areas of deprivation?
  • Does the impact of outdoor spaces vary by personal characteristics such as age, gender and mobility?
  • What are the best methods of engaging members of the public in public health citizen science?

Behind the project

What will happen in the Our Outdoors project?

The project has four phases, each of which has distinct objectives:

    • Develop a questionnaire to measure the health and wellbeing impact of various shared outdoor spaces.
    • Test out the questionnaire with people like yourself, and use the findings to finalise the content and format of the questionnaire.
    • Publicise and promote the questionnaire in small area(s).
    • Ensure wide participation in the questionnaire from a range of citizen scientists.
    • Explore the impact of shared outdoor spaces on health and wellbeing and whether this differs by population sub-groups.
    • Identify health promoting spaces and spaces which are seen as being unsafe, unusable or inaccessible (and how they are distributed across the pilot areas).
    • Provide communities, researchers, policy makers, and citizens with the data to enable them to make change with, and for, communities.
    • Publicise and roll out the questionnaire across the UK.
  • Members of the public (citizen scientists) will be engaged in all phases of the project.
  • Our Outdoors will take place across the UK. It is being piloted in Edinburgh and the Lothians in Scotland before it is rolled out UK wide.

Effects from the project

What difference will ‘Our Outdoors’ make?

‘Our Outdoors’ is a citizen science project which aims to contribute to public understanding of how shared outdoor spaces can affect our health and wellbeing. The project will also explore whether specific spaces affect people’s health and wellbeing differently and if so, why?

In this project, we need people like you, to get involved and help us learn about a range of local outdoor spaces. From streets and town squares to beaches, public parks and beyond. Any spaces can be included as long as they are outside and freely open to anyone (e.g. not a private garden).

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A unique project

How is Our Outdoors different from other projects?

A lot of excellent research has been done, or is currently being done, to explore the link between outdoor spaces and health. The vast majority has focused on green spaces and physical activity, commonly in urban settings. Yet, despite this work, there is still a lot that we do not know.

At a UK-wide level it is unclear which specific spaces, or what it is about these spaces that, positively or negatively affect health and wellbeing. Our project will work with members of the public to understand how different shared outdoor spaces across the UK impact on health and wellbeing and what populations benefit from these spaces and why. Our Outdoors uses in-situ measurements, meaning the survey will capture citizen’s feelings about a space in the moment they are using that space.

Traditionally, citizen scientists have been involved in collecting information about the natural world (e.g. bug counts, testing soil); however, citizen science approaches are less commonly used in public health research. Citizen science in public health has great potential and is gathering interest.