Dr Ronan Foley

Modelling relationships between health and green-blue infrastructures: a multi-scale cross-sectional Irish study

19 June, 2019
UOW Innovation Campus, North Wollongong

Co-Speaker Prof Thomas Astell-Burt is a Founding Co-Director of the PowerLab and an NHMRC Boosting Dementia Research Leadership Fellow. Thomas will outline some recent news and findings by the PowerLab in the area of population health environmental data science.

Dr Ronan Foley is a Senior Lecturer in Health Geography and GIS at Maynooth University, Ireland, with specialist expertise in therapeutic landscapes and geospatial planning within health and social care environments. He has worked on a range of research and consultancy projects allied to health, social and economic data analysis in both the UK and Ireland. He is the current Editor of the academic journal, Irish Geography and was an Erskine Fellow at the University of Canterbury (NZ) in 2015. His current research focuses broadly on relationships between water, health and place, including two authored/co-edited books, Healing Waters (2010) and Blue Space, Health and Wellbeing: Hydrophilia Unbounded (2019) as well as journal articles on holy wells, spas, social and cultural histories of swimming and ‘blue space’. He was the co-convener, with Prof Thomas Kistemann (WHO/Bonn) of a special issue on the topic of healthy blue space for Health & Place (2015). He was the PI on an EPA-funded project on Green-Blue Infrastructure and Health with UCD and EMRA in 2017-18 and is collaborating on a number of water/health projects with colleagues within Ireland as well as internationally with the Universities of Exeter and Seville.

Seminar Abstract: The seminar will present details of a recent EPA-funded project in Ireland from 2017-18. The GBIHealth project was a short cross-sectional study that looked at area-based associations between a range of health and GBI (green-blue infrastructure) indicators. The project was based on a literature review, health data audit, GBI data characterisation and spatial modelling of associations at different scales. The study used a “health-led’ approach and utilised cluster analysis to identify representative study sites, at multiple scales, as a starting point. The project identified associations based on spatial overlays between health indicators and GBI data for sample sites across Ireland. The statistical result showed clear associations between high availability and amounts of GBI and positive health outcomes across selected health indicators (including mortality and self-reported health) across scales. One important policy output from the research work was the identification of a putative new intermediate-level geography to act as an effective scale for the modelling of health data at national level within Ireland.