Researchers’ Knowledge Network

Objective: Create a knowledge network for researchers that helps them develop the evidence base for nature as a social determinant of health collectively.

Background: While the evidence base for the health benefits of time outside is growing, it remains insufficient for health care providers, payers, employers and the military to invest in nature as a health care intervention strategy. Although researchers around the world are working on the topic, there is no unified hub that would aggregate data, provide a common agenda, facilitate networking opportunities and allow for the sharing of best practices.

A Researchers’ Meeting at The 2018 SHIFT Festival discussed the state of the research on the topic. Researchers convened again during The 2019 SHIFT Festival, participating in workshops and sharing their work in a poster session developed by the Evidence for Action (E4A) subcommittee. 

During a meeting at the Festival’s conclusion, participants agreed to establish a knowledge network that would allow them to connect, network, share information on grants and develop a common agenda for the advancement of nature as a social determinant of health. As part of this agenda, participants agreed to develop a position paper on the evidence for the health benefits of time outside. A Slack channel was also established post-SHIFT to facilitate communication among the research community.

How it Works: A leadership team is coordinating the knowledge network’s efforts. The team is working to determine the paper’s framework, begin development of the content and identify an outlet for publication. The paper will be delivered at The 2020 SHIFT Festival as part of an international gathering that showcases the most important research of the past year. Grants funding is being sought to underwrite the participation of researchers at the 2020 gathering.

A database of researchers from around the world is under development using this list as a starting point. A call for abstracts has gone out to researchers, along with the announcement of a poster session at The 2020 SHIFT Festival. Selections for the poster session will be made using the 2019 evaluation process as a template. 

The Health and Nature Webinar Series has been created to develop the framework for both the position paper and the 2020 poster session. Speakers are invited to present their work via Zoom in presentations that are open to the public and stored on the Slack channel and on Figshare for public dissemination. 

Key Benefits: A knowledge network will provide a responsive hub and social system for the advancement of nature as a social determinant of health. The development of the evidence base is necessary to incentivize employers, health care providers, health care payers and the military to invest in nature as a social determinant of health. The Health and Nature webinar series will help focus the research community on gaps and needs in the evidence base while promoting broader mainstream adoption of the health benefits of time spent outside.

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