1. In this scoping review, the literature suggests that chronic and persistent smoke events may adversely impact mental health.

2. Furthermore, qualitative studies reported that wildfires negatively impacted mental health through a variety of means, including isolation and loss of nature.

Evidence Rating Level: 1 (Excellent)

Climate change is a topic of global importance. Recently, the intensity and duration of wildfire events, as a result of global warming, have been increasing– demonstrating a need to further understand the mental health effects of such events. Until now, research has focused on the physical health outcomes of these events, while the effects of wildfire smoke on mental health have not been well studied. As a result, the objective of the present scoping review was to summarize the literature examining the impact of wildfire smoke on mental health and well-being.

Of 200 identified records,19 studies were included from various databases and the gray literature from 1990-2022. Only studies published in English were included. Studies were excluded if they did not examine the relationship between mental health/well-being and wildfire smoke events in humans. The review was performed using PRISMA guidelines. A narrative synthesis and data charting were performed. The primary outcome was mental well-being.

The results demonstrated that wildfire events negatively impacted mental health, however this evidence was inconsistent and limited. In addition, qualitative studies showed that wildfires could negatively impact mental health through various means, including isolation, reducing the sense of community, and loss of nature. Despite these results, the study was limited by the absence of a quality assessment of the included papers. Nonetheless, the present study was the first scoping review to provide insight into the potentially detrimental effects of wildfire smoke on mental health.

Click to read the study in BMC Public Health

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