EXPLORING THE IMPACTS THAT VIRTUAL NATURE EXPOSURE CAN HAVE ON HEALTH AND WELL-BEING AND THE MECHANISMS INVOLVED: A SYSTEMATIC REVIEW

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Abstract

Exposure to nature can improve health and well-being. However, numerous populations have restricted access to outdoor environments. Reviews show virtual nature exposure can provide benefits for a range of health and well-being outcomes. There is space for a systematic review that provides an overview of all outcomes impacted by virtual nature exposure, as well as underlying mechanisms. This systematic review searched databases; PsycINFO, MEDLINE, SCOPUS, Web of Science, and Google Scholar. Searches resulted in 9948 articles, with 66 studies included in the review. Findings showed virtual nature exposure can increase levels of mood, motivation, restorativeness, and cognitive functioning, whilst reducing anxiety, depressive symptoms, stress, and perceived pain. Presence and perceived restorativeness mediated improved positive affect after exposure, whilst connectedness to nature mediated improved positive affect and ability to reflect after exposure, and perceptions of safety mediated the extent to which enclosure of an environment predicted perceived restorativeness. There is support for virtual nature to be used in general and clinical settings for improving health and well-being, in addition as a tool for populations with limited mobility. Future studies should investigate long-term virtual exposure and conduct statistical analyses to understand the mechanisms linking virtual nature exposure with health and well-being outcomes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)71
Number of pages86
JournalThe Open Review (SWDTP)
Volume2023
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 13 Feb 2023

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