The portrayal of natural environment in the evolution of the ecological public health paradigm

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2014 Jan 10;11(1):1005-19. doi: 10.3390/ijerph110101005.


This paper explores the conceptualization of the natural environment in an evolving ecological public health paradigm. The natural environment has long been recognized as essential to supporting life, health, and wellbeing. Our understanding of the relationship between the natural environment and health has steadily evolved from one of an undynamic environment to a more sophisticated understanding of ecological interactions. This evolution is reflected in a number of ecological public health models which demonstrate the many external and overlapping determinants of human health. Six models are presented here to demonstrate this evolution, each model reflecting an increasingly ecological appreciation for the fundamental role of the natural environment in supporting human health. We conclude that after decades of public health's acceptance of the ecological paradigm, we are only now beginning to assemble knowledge of sophisticated ecological interdependencies and apply this knowledge to the conceptualization and study of the relationship between the natural environment and the determinants of human health.

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Cultural Evolution*
  • Ecosystem*
  • Humans
  • Nature*
  • Public Health*