Activities

Mapping the Evidence

Listening to: Marine experts / Medical experts

This project has reviewed existing research into the links between the marine environment and health and wellbeing, and created a systematic map of its findings.

Providing a picture of the areas which have been studied – and those which have not, will help to make recommendations for the future direction of Oceans and Human Health research in Europe.

We searched the peer-reviewed, published academic literature to identify all of the relevant studies which have taken place. To ensure we captured a wide range of research, we also included ‘grey’, non-peer reviewed outputs. A total of 1,542 unique articles are included in the database.

Studies had to measure an exposure to – or intervention related to – the marine environment. For example, algae concentrations during a red tide event, or a public health initiative to encourage sea swimming. They also have a direct measure of human health or wellbeing – reports of gastrointestinal illness, or levels of physical activity for example. Studies were not included if human health outcomes were implied without a direct measure of human health. An example of this might be measures of microplastics in the food chain.

In addition to the article submitted for publication, a key output of this project is the visualisation of our findings. By producing a matrix-style map, we are able to show the number of studies conducted in a particular area, and illustrate the type and quality of these studies.

This project has also developed an online, searchable data portal to demonstrate where the key gaps (and gluts) exist in the evidence exploring links between the marine environment and human health in Europe.

A systematic map provides a powerful tool for describing and defining the existing evidence base. It can be useful for showing policy makers and funders where there are knowledge gaps – and therefore areas that would benefit from additional funding. It can also highlight to researchers where there is sufficient knowledge to conduct a systematic review and meta-analysis.

This project was conducted with the support of all SOPHIE partners. The systematic map protocol is available online at CADIMA, search for the title ‘What linkages have been researched between the marine environment and human health? A systematic map protocol’ for full details.

The visualisation and data portal will be available online soon.

Project partners involved

University of Exeter

University of Exeter

Daniel Cox

Daniel Cox

Research Fellow in nature and health

Ruth Garside

Ruth Garside

Senior Lecturer in Evidence Synthesis

Mathew White

Mathew White

Environmental Psychologist

Sophie Davison

Sophie Davison

PhD Student

Lora E Fleming

Lora E Fleming

Professor of Oceans and Human Health

Rebecca Short

Rebecca Short

Research Fellow

Alison Bethel

Alison Bethel

Information Specialist

Jacqualyn Eales

Jacqualyn Eales

Evidence synthesis specialist

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