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Concept: Health economics



Nature within cities will have a central role in helping address key global public health challenges associated with urbanization. However, there is almost no guidance on how much or how frequently people need to engage with nature, and what types or characteristics of nature need to be incorporated in cities for the best health outcomes. Here we use a nature dose framework to examine the associations between the duration, frequency and intensity of exposure to nature and health in an urban population. We show that people who made long visits to green spaces had lower rates of depression and high blood pressure, and those who visited more frequently had greater social cohesion. Higher levels of physical activity were linked to both duration and frequency of green space visits. A dose-response analysis for depression and high blood pressure suggest that visits to outdoor green spaces of 30 minutes or more during the course of a week could reduce the population prevalence of these illnesses by up to 7% and 9% respectively. Given that the societal costs of depression alone in Australia are estimated at AUD$12.6 billion per annum, savings to public health budgets across all health outcomes could be immense.

Concepts: Health care, Health economics, Epidemiology, Hypertension, Urban area, Sociology, Illness, Society


Volunteering has been advocated by the United Nations, and American and European governments as a way to engage people in their local communities and improve social capital, with the potential for public health benefits such as improving wellbeing and decreasing health inequalities. Furthermore, the US Corporation for National and Community Service Strategic Plan for 2011–2015 focused on increasing the impact of national service on community needs, supporting volunteers' wellbeing, and prioritising recruitment and engagement of underrepresented populations. The aims of this review were to examine the effect of formal volunteering on volunteers' physical and mental health and survival, and to explore the influence of volunteering type and intensity on health outcomes.

Concepts: Health care, Health economics, Public health, Epidemiology, Population health, Community, United Nations, Civil society


The U.S. health care sector is highly interconnected with industrial activities that emit much of the nation’s pollution to air, water, and soils. We estimate emissions directly and indirectly attributable to the health care sector, and potential harmful effects on public health. Negative environmental and public health outcomes were estimated through economic input-output life cycle assessment (EIOLCA) modeling using National Health Expenditures (NHE) for the decade 2003-2013 and compared to national totals. In 2013, the health care sector was also responsible for significant fractions of national air pollution emissions and impacts, including acid rain (12%), greenhouse gas emissions (10%), smog formation (10%) criteria air pollutants (9%), stratospheric ozone depletion (1%), and carcinogenic and non-carcinogenic air toxics (1-2%). The largest contributors to impacts are discussed from both the supply side (EIOLCA economic sectors) and demand side (NHE categories), as are trends over the study period. Health damages from these pollutants are estimated at 470,000 DALYs lost from pollution-related disease, or 405,000 DALYs when adjusted for recent shifts in power generation sector emissions. These indirect health burdens are commensurate with the 44,000-98,000 people who die in hospitals each year in the U.S. as a result of preventable medical errors, but are currently not attributed to our health system. Concerted efforts to improve environmental performance of health care could reduce expenditures directly through waste reduction and energy savings, and indirectly through reducing pollution burden on public health, and ought to be included in efforts to improve health care quality and safety.

Concepts: Health economics, Medicine, Ozone depletion, Smog, Air pollution, Greenhouse gas, Ozone, Acid rain


New possibilities for mHealth have arisen by means of the latest advances in mobile communications and technologies. With more than 1 billion smartphones and 100 million tablets around the world, these devices can be a valuable tool in health care management. Every aid for health care is welcome and necessary as shown by the more than 50 million estimated deaths caused by illnesses or health conditions in 2008. Some of these conditions have additional importance depending on their prevalence.

Concepts: Health care, Health economics, Medicine, Public health, Epidemiology, Disease, World Health Organization, Mobile phone


Initial management decisions following a new episode of low back pain (LBP) are thought to have profound implications for health care utilization and costs. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the impact of early and guideline adherent physical therapy for low back pain on utilization and costs within the Military Health System (MHS).

Concepts: Health care, Health economics, Medicine, Spinal disc herniation, Low back pain, Back pain, Acupuncture, Massage


The United States spends $361 billion annually on health care administration - more than twice our total spending on heart disease and three times our spending on cancer. But the experience of other industries shows how to realize large savings rapidly.

Concepts: Health care, Health economics, Medicine, Healthcare, Epidemiology, United States, Barack Obama, Massachusetts


Problems of quality and safety persist in health systems worldwide. We conducted a large research programme to examine culture and behaviour in the English National Health Service (NHS).

Concepts: Health care, Health economics, Medicine, Healthcare, National Health Service, England, English people, English Canadian


In the first article of a five-part series providing a global perspective on integrating mental health, Pamela Collins and colleagues set the scene for why mental health care should be combined with priority programs on maternal and child health, non-communicable diseases, and HIV, and how this might be done.

Concepts: Health care, Health economics, Medicine, Public health, Mental health, Massachusetts


Overweight and obesity are public health issues in the United States, and veterans have a higher rate of overweight and obesity than the general population. Our objective was to examine whether copayment elimination increased use of a weight loss clinic by veterans.

Concepts: Health economics, Public health, Health, Cancer, Nutrition, Obesity, United States, Adipose tissue