International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
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A growing body of research suggests that increasing children’s nature interactions can have positive benefits for their health-related quality of life (HRQOL); however, researchers have yet to examine how geographical context influences this relationship. The purpose of this study was to examine individual-level and environmental factors that are associated with HRQOL of children from different geographical contexts. Data were collected for 851 children from 34 elementary schools in Ontario, Canada. The natural environments around each child’s home were computed using geospatial analyses in a geographic information system. Natural environment measures were combined with HRQOL and the demographics from child surveys to be used in a series of step-wise linear regression models. These models explored the relationship between children’s HRQOL and the natural environment in urban/suburban and rural populations. In addition to important individual-level determinants, the findings revealed that characteristics of the natural environment, including the amount of greenness, park, and water, show significant relationships in the urban/suburban population. Interpersonal variables were the key predictors of HRQOL in the rural population. Where children live influences relationships between nature and HRQOL. These findings have implications for policymakers, health practitioners, educators, and parents in the design and the promotion of nature for children’s HRQOL.