Is spatial exposure to heritage associated with visits to heritage and to mental health? A cross-sectional study using data from the UK Household Longitudinal Study (UKHLS)

Macdonald, L. , Nicholls, N. , Gallou, E., Monckton, L. and Mitchell, R. (2023) Is spatial exposure to heritage associated with visits to heritage and to mental health? A cross-sectional study using data from the UK Household Longitudinal Study (UKHLS). BMJ Open, 13(3), e066986. (doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2022-066986) (PMID:36990477) (PMCID:PMC10069496)

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Objectives: Existing research highlights the beneficial nature of heritage engagement for mental health, but engagement varies geographically and socially, and few studies explore spatial exposure (ie, geographic availability) to heritage and heritage visits. Our research questions were ‘does spatial exposure to heritage vary by area income deprivation?’, ‘is spatial exposure to heritage linked to visiting heritage?’ and ‘is spatial exposure to heritage linked to mental health?’. Additionally, we explored whether local heritage is associated with mental health regardless of the presence of green space. Design: Data were collected from January 2014 to June 2015 via the UK Household Longitudinal Study (UKHLS) wave 5. Our study is cross-sectional. Setting: UKHLS data were either collected via face-to-face interview or online questionnaire. Participants: 30 431 adults (16+ years) (13 676 males, 16 755 females). Participants geocoded to Lower Super Output Area (LSOA) ‘neighbourhood’ and ‘English Index of Multiple Deprivation’ 2015 income score. Main exposures/outcome measures: LSOA-level heritage exposure and green space exposure (ie, population and area densities); heritage site visit in the past year (outcome, binary: no, yes); mental distress (outcome, General Health Questionnaire-12, binary: less distressed 0–3, more distressed 4+). Results: Heritage varied by deprivation, the most deprived areas (income quintile (Q)1: 1.8) had fewer sites per 1000 population than the least deprived (Q5: 11.1) (p<0.01). Compared with those with no LSOA-level heritage, those with heritage exposure were more likely to have visited a heritage site in the past year (OR: 1.12 (95% CI 1.03 to 1.22)) (p<0.01). Among those with heritage exposure, visitors to heritage had a lower predicted probability of distress (0.171 (95% CI 0.162 to 0.179)) than non-visitors (0.238 (95% CI 0.225 to 0.252)) (p<0.001). Conclusions: Our research contributes to evidence for the well-being benefits of heritage and is highly relevant to the government’s levelling-up heritage strategy. Our findings can feed into schemes to tackle inequality in heritage exposure to improve both heritage engagement and mental health.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Mitchell, Professor Rich and Nicholls, Dr Natalie and MacDonald, Mrs Laura
Authors: Macdonald, L., Nicholls, N., Gallou, E., Monckton, L., and Mitchell, R.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > School of Health & Wellbeing > MRC/CSO SPHSU
Journal Name:BMJ Open
Publisher:BMJ Publishing Group
ISSN (Online):2044-6055
Published Online:29 March 2023
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2023 The Authors
First Published:First published in BMJ Open 13(3): e066986
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
3048230041Places and healthRich MitchellMedical Research Council (MRC)MC_UU_00022/4HW - MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit
3048230091Places and healthRich MitchellOffice of the Chief Scientific Adviser (CSO)SPHSU19HW - MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit