For additional information and links to articles, see Dr. Largo-Wight's Research Gate Page and University of North Florida Faculty Profile
Our research is a new area of public health called Health by Design, which is focused on creating or managing built environments to support health and make healthy lifestyles easier. We focus on creating restorative and calming communities, workplaces, schools, homes, and healthcare settings to reduce stress and promote well-being. Past findings show that contact with nature is a central aspect to healthy spaces and exposures.
Reduce Single Use (Plastic)
An interdisciplinary team from University of North Florida and Eckerd College are working on a two-year study (2021-2023) aimed to reduce single-use plastic behaviors on both campuses. The study is funded by NOAA Marine Debris Program. The study involves outreach and education (events facilitated by UNF Environmental Center - Reduce Single Use UNF Calendar of Events here), academic opportunities, and plastic reduction challenges all aimed to change attitudes, values, beliefs about single-use plastic and ultimately aimed to reduce single-use plastic behaviors. Press release.
Children and Nature / Nature at School
Children today have less contact with nature than ever before. Unfortunately, this disconnect with nature has health, stress, and well-being and cognitive consequences for children. One opportunity for contact with nature is at school through an outdoor classroom. Our past research found that children learning language arts in an outdoor classroom had greater attention, behavior, and well-being than children in the indoor classroom. Feasibility of using the outdoor classroom on a daily basis , teacher and student perception of using an outdoor classroom, and best practices for community-based participatory research were also examined.
Healthy Workplaces / Nature at Work
Workplaces free of environmental stressors that also have the opportunity for nature contact support employee well-being and facilitate productivity. Our past research found employees with greater contact with nature in their office (plants, natural light, view from the window, outdoor breaks, etc) and fewer reported stress and health complaints. We also found employees that took a 10-minute work break daily for six weeks saw health improvements and those that took an outdoor work break (compared to indoor work break) had significant decrease in stress and health complaints.
Healthy Healthcare / Nature in Healthcare
Nature contact has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety and promote recovery among patients. Health-promoting nature contact can be accomplished through 'nature prescription' by connecting patients with nature (in community parks, on site gardens, etc) and by 'brining the outdoors in'. Our past research found that even listening to recorded sounds of nature in a waiting room or office for as little as seven minutes resulted in physiological and self-reported indicators of stress.
Nature parks and green spaces are important to create healthy communities. It is important for residents to have access to nature for active (recreation and physical activity) and passive (restoration and stress reduction) health benefits. Our published literature review highlights the research on the power of nature from a health-perspective and the need to advocate for preserving green spaces and parks for health.
There is a wealth of literature that suggests nature contact and spending time outdoors is promoting and stress-reducing. Past findings indicate that clinical patients benefit from time outdoors and contact with nature. Do healthcare providers prescribe nature? To learn more about healthcare provider practices and needs, we are conducting a needs assessment study (in progress) with the support of Timucuan Parks Foundation.
Nature Contact (Flowers) and Stress Among Women
We explored the impact of flowers, a form of nature contact. A representative sample of 170 women completed in-depth stress and health surveys for 12 consecutive days. In the middle of the study, women were randomized into one of three conditions: flower delivery (flower arrangement delivered to home), comparison delivery (luxury candle of similar value delivered to home), and no delivery (control). Results suggest that living with flowers - even just for a few days - resulted in a significant reduction in reported stress. Brining nature indoors appears to be one way to create healthy interiors. Press release.
Nature Contact and Health Behavior Modeling
Understanding and predicting health behavior is central to the social behavioral core of public health. Purposeful nature contact behavior is an emerging health behavior that is not well understood. We are explored the predictive model of MTM (Multi Theory Model) of nature contact behavior. Article. Building off of this, we are also working on a second study to better understand sunscreen and sun exposure behaviors and related environmental risk behaviors among beach goers in Florida.
Sustainability and Health
Human health is dependent on healthy Earth; clean air, water, soil are necessary for physical health. We explore environmental education and healthy "green" lifestyles related to recycling, gardening, active commuting, reducing resource consumption (reduce single use), reducing toxic exposures, etc.
Healthy Lifestyle and Behavior Change
Health is primarily determined by lifestyle, by behavioral choices. Our underlying focus is understanding and promoting health behavior. We have focus on self-presentation, behavioral ease and control, identity management, clustered healthy lifestyle etc related to health behavior and healthy lifestyles.