Research Mentor Name

Anil N. F. Aranha

Research Mentor Email Address

Institution / Department

Wayne State University School of Medicine / Medical Education Department

Document Type

Research Abstract

Research Type


Level of Research



Background and Purpose: Natural spaces are areas which have a majority of natural ground cover such as vegetation or water. These spaces have positive effects on both physical and mental health. The purpose of this study was to investigate whether medical students who have greater accessibility and use of natural spaces have better self-rated health.

Methods: M2-M4 students from Wayne State University School of Medicine received an email link to the Qualtrics-based study. Variables evaluated included: sociodemographics, residence zip code, natural spaces access frequency, distance, and transportation method. Self-rated physical and mental health was measured using the Healthy Days measure and SF-20. Data were analyzed using SPSS, and statistical significance was assigned at P<0.05.

Results: 51 medical students participated, mean age 25.6 years, BMI 24.3, essentially M2 (56.9%), Female (74.5%), White-European (51.0%), living in 48201 Zip Code (56.9%) and exercised at least twice-weekly (80.4%). 52.9% used natural spaces, whereas 47.1% rarely did. Natural spaces use was inversely associated (P=0.002) with travel time. No differences (P>0.05) were identified in evaluation of physical and mental health among those students who used natural spaces and those who did not.

Conclusion: The study results demonstrate that use of natural spaces may not play a significant role in the health of medical students, likely mediated by prevailing good health and youth. Nevertheless, our findings are interesting, not previously reported, and indicate the limited impact of natural spaces – a social determinant of health – on the wellness and health of medical students.


Community Health and Preventive Medicine | Environmental Public Health | Medical Education | Medicine and Health Sciences | Public Health