Journal of Urban Health

, Volume 91, Issue 5, pp 894–907 | Cite as

Disparities in Built and Natural Features of Urban Parks: Comparisons by Neighborhood Level Race/Ethnicity and Income

Article

Abstract

Known associations between the built environment and health outcomes have accelerated research examining racial/ethnic and income disparities in access to parks and other community features that support physical activity. Currently, it cannot be concluded that park characteristics are equal in quantity or condition across areas of disparate race/ethnicity and income composition. This study examined natural and built park characteristics across areas of different race/ethnicity and income composition to identify potential disparities. Twenty-one parks in Greensboro, NC (USA), located in minority or non-minority areas and in low or medium-high income areas were inventoried using a park audit tool and GIS. Parks were compared on number of activity areas, features, amenities, size, percent tree canopy, cleanliness, and condition. Independent sample t tests and Mann–Whitney tests were used to compare means of outcome variables. Fisher’s exact tests were applied for categorical variables. Fewer wooded areas and more trash cans were found in low-income and minority areas as compared to medium-high income and non-minority areas. Low-income areas were found to have more picnic areas than their counterparts. Sitting and resting features in non-minority areas were found to be cleaner than those in minority areas. Results showed some evidence of disparities in park characteristics. Findings can inform park policy and design as well as renovations and maintenance procedures, particularly in specific areas where existing disparities were identified.

Keywords

Disparities Park characteristics Built environment 

References

  1. 1.
    Maller C, Townsend M, Pryor A, Brown P, St LL. Healthy nature healthy people: ‘contact with nature’ as an upstream health promotion intervention for populations. Health Promot Int. 2006; 21(1): 45–54.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. 2.
    Institute of Medicine and National Research Council. Local government actions to prevent childhood obesity. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press; 2009.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    U. S. Department of Health and Human Services. Healthy people 2020: improving the health of Americans. 2010. http://healthypeople.gov/2020/default.aspx. Accessed April 8, 2013.
  4. 4.
    Michael YL, Perdue LA, Orwoll ES, Stefanick ML, Marshall LM, For the Osteoporotic Fractures in Men Study Group. Physical activity resources and changes in walking in a cohort of older men. Am J Public Health. 2010; 100(4): 654–60.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  5. 5.
    Coombes E, Jones AP, Hillsdon M. The relationship of physical activity and overweight to objectively measured green space accessibility and use. Soc Sci Me. 2010; 70(6): 816–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. 6.
    Cohen DA, McKenzie TL, Sehgal A, Williamson S, Golinelli D, Lurie N. Contribution of public parks to physical activity. Am J Publ Health. 2007; 97(3): 509–14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. 7.
    Kaczynski AT, Henderson KA. Environmental correlates of physical activity: a review of evidence about parks and recreation. Leisure Sci. 2007; 29(4): 315–54.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. 8.
    Lee RE, Cubbin C, Winkleby M. Contribution of neighbourhood socioeconomic status and physical activity resources to physical activity among women. J Epidemiol Community Health. 2007; 61(10): 882–90.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  9. 9.
    Estabrooks PA, Lee RE, Gyurcsik NC. Resources for physical activity participation: does availability and accessibility differ by neighborhood socioeconomic status? Ann Behav Med. 2003; 25(2): 100–4.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. 10.
    Gordon-Larsen P, Nelson MC, Page P, Popkin BM. Inequality in the built environment underlies key health disparities in physical activity and obesity. Pediatrics. 2006; 117(2): 417–24.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. 11.
    Moore LV, Diez Roux AV, Evenson KR, McGinn AP, Brines SJ. Availability of recreational resources in minority and low socioeconomic status areas. Am J Prev Med. 2008; 34(1): 16–22.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  12. 12.
    Timperio A, Ball K, Salmon J, Roberts R, Crawford D. Is availability of public open space equitable across areas? Health Place. 2007; 13(2): 335–40.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. 13.
    Weiss C, Purciel M, Bader M, et al. Reconsidering access: park facilities and neighborhood disamenities in New York City. J Urban Health. 2011; 88(2): 297–310.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  14. 14.
    Boone CG, Buckley GL, Grove JM, Sister C. Parks and people: an environmental justice inquiry in Baltimore, Maryland. Ann Assoc Am Geogr. 2009; 99(4): 767–87.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. 15.
    Suminski RR, Ding D, Lee R, May L, Tota T, Dinius D. Youth physical activity opportunities in lower and higher income neighborhoods. J Urban Health. 2011; 88(4): 599–615.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  16. 16.
    Feng J, Glass TA, Curriero FC, Stewart WF, Schwartz BS. The built environment and obesity: a systematic review of the epidemiologic evidence. Health Place. 2010; 16(2): 175–90.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. 17.
    Leal C, Chaix B. The influence of geographic life environments on cardiometabolic risk factors: a systematic review, a methodological assessment and a research agenda. Obes Rev. 2011; 12: 217–30.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. 18.
    Lovasi GS, Hutson MA, Guerra M, Neckerman KM. Built environments and obesity in disadvantaged populations. Epidemiol Rev. 2009; 31(1): 7–20.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. 19.
    Macintyre S. Deprivation amplification revisited; or, is it always true that poorer places have poorer access to resources for healthy diets and physical activity? Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act. 2007; 4(1): 1–7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. 20.
    Timperio A, Giles-Corti B, Crawford D, et al. Features of public open spaces and physical activity among children: findings from the CLAN study. Prev Med. 2008; 47(5): 514–8.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. 21.
    Byrne J, Wolch J. Nature, race, and parks: past research and future directions for geographic research. Progr Hum Geogr. 2009; 33(6): 743–65.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. 22.
    Spence JC, Lee RE. Toward a comprehensive model of physical activity. Psychol Sport Exerc. 2003; 4(1): 7–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. 23.
    Bronfenbrenner U. The ecology of human development. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press; 1979.Google Scholar
  24. 24.
    Macintyre S, Ellaway A, Cummins S. Place effects on health: how can we conceptualise, operationalise and measure them? Soc Sci Med. 2002; 55: 125–39.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. 25.
    Taylor WC, Carlos Poston WS, Jones L, Kraft MK. Environmental justice: obesity, physical activity, and healthy eating. J Phys Act Health. 2006; 4(1): S30–54.Google Scholar
  26. 26.
    Heinrich KM, Lee RE, Regan GR, et al. How does the built environment relate to body mass index and obesity prevalence among public housing residents? Am J Health Promot. 2008; 22(3): 187–94.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. 27.
    Heinrich K, Lee R, Suminski R, et al. Associations between the built environment and physical activity in public housing residents. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act. 2007; 4(1): 56.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  28. 28.
    McAlexander K, Banda J, McAlexander J, Lee R. Physical activity resource attributes and obesity in low-income African Americans. J Urban Health. 2009; 86(5): 696–707.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  29. 29.
    Crawford D, Timperio A, Giles-Corti B, et al. Do features of public open spaces vary according to neighbourhood socio-economic status? Health Place. 2008; 14(4): 889–93.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. 30.
    Lindsey G, Wilson J, Yang JA, Alexa C. Urban greenways, trail characteristics and trail use: implications for design. J Urban Des. 2008; 13(1): 53–79.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. 31.
    McCormack GR, Rock M, Toohey AM, Hignell D. Characteristics of urban parks associated with park use and physical activity: a review of qualitative research. Health Place. 2010; 16(4): 712–26.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. 32.
    Cohen DA, Ashwood JS, Scott MM, et al. Public parks and physical activity among adolescent girls. Pediatrics. 2006; 118(5): e1381–9.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  33. 33.
    Ferré MB, Guitart AO, Ferret MP. Children and playgrounds in Mediterranean cities. Child Geogr. 2006; 4(2): 173–83.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. 34.
    Tucker P, Gilliland J, Irwin JD. Splashpads, swings, and shade: parents’ preferences for neighbourhood parks. Can J Public Health. 2007; 98(3): 198–202.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  35. 35.
    Veitch J, Bagley S, Ball K, Salmon J. Where do children usually play? A qualitative study of parents’ perceptions of influences on children’s active free-play. Health Place. 2006; 12(4): 383–93.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. 36.
    Kaczynski AT, Potwarka LR, Saelens BE. Association of park size, distance, and features with physical activity in neighborhood parks. Am J Public Health. 2008; 98(8): 1451–6.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  37. 37.
    Giles-Corti B, Broomhall MH, Knuiman M, et al. Increasing walking: how important is distance to, attractiveness, and size of public open space? Am J Prev Med. 2005; 28: 169–76.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  38. 38.
    Suminski RR, Connolly EK, May LE, Wasserman J, Olvera N, Lee RE. Park quality in racial/ethnic minority neighborhoods. Environ Justice. 2012;5(6).Google Scholar
  39. 39.
    Lee RE, Mama SK, Adamus-Leach HJ, Soltero EG. Contribution of neighborhood income and access to quality physical activity resources to physical activity in ethnic minority women over time. Am J Health Promot. 2014; In press.Google Scholar
  40. 40.
    Vaughan KB, Kaczynski AT, Wilhelm Stanis SA, Besenyi GM, Bergstrom R, Heinrich KM. Exploring the distribution of park availability, features, and quality across Kansas City, Missouri by income and race/ethnicity: an environmental justice investigation. Ann Behav Med. 2013; 45(Suppl 1): 28–38.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. 41.
    Brown JB, Bennington C. A study of racial discrimination by banks and mortgage companies in the United States. 1993. http://www.public-gis.org/reports/redindex.html. Accessed May 3, 2012.
  42. 42.
    Floyd MF, Spengler JO, Maddock JE, Gobster PH, Suau L. Environmental and social correlates of physical activity in neighborhood parks: an observational study in Tampa and Chicago. Leisure Sci. 2008; 30(4): 360–75.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. 43.
    U. S. Census Bureau. American Community Survey. 2010. http://www.census.gov/acs/www/. Accessed November 16, 2010.
  44. 44.
    Saelens BE, Frank LD, Auffrey C, Whitaker RC, Burdette HL, Colabianchi N. Measuring physical environments of parks and playgrounds: EAPRS instrument development and inter-rater reliability. J Phys Act Health. 2006; 3(1): S190–207.Google Scholar
  45. 45.
    Heynen N, Perkins HA, Roy P. The political ecology of uneven urban green space. Urban Aff Rev. 2006; 42(1): 3–25.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. 46.
    Landry SM, Chakraborty J. Street trees and equity: evaluating the spatial distribution of an urban amenity. Environ Plann. 2009; 41: 2651–70.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. 47.
    Neckerman KM, Lovasi GS, Davies S, et al. Disparities in urban neighborhood conditions: evidence from GIS measures and field observation in New York City. J Public Health Policy. 2009; 30(Supplement 1): S264–85.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. 48.
    Ball K, Bauman A, Leslie E, Owen N. Perceived environmental aesthetics and convenience and company are associated with walking for exercise among Australian adults. Prev Med. 2001; 33(5): 434–40.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. 49.
    Humpel N, Owen N, Leslie E. Environmental factors associated with adults’ participation in physical activity: a review. Am J Prev Med. 2002; 22(3): 188–99.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. 50.
    Nordh H, Hartig T, Hagerhall CM, Fry G. Components of small urban parks that predict the possibility for restoration. Urban For Urban Green. 2009; 8(4): 225–35.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. 51.
    Bell JF, Wilson JS, Liu GC. Neighborhood greenness and 2-year changes in body mass index of children and youth. Am J Prev Med. 2008; 35(6): 547–53.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  52. 52.
    Kuo F. Parks and other green environments: essential components of a healthy human habitat. National Recreation and Park Association. 2010.Google Scholar
  53. 53.
    Kelly CM, Schootman M, Baker EA, Barnidge EK, Lemes A. Evidence-based public health policy and practice: the association of sidewalk walkability and physical disorder with area-level race and poverty. J Epidemiol Community Health. 2007; 61(11): 978–83.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  54. 54.
    Lee R, Booth K, Reese-Smith J, Regan G, Howard H. The Physical Activity Resource Assessment (PARA) instrument: evaluating features, amenities and incivilities of physical activity resources in urban neighborhoods. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act. 2005; 2(1): 13.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  55. 55.
    Taylor WC, Franzini L, Olvera N, Carlos Poston WS, Lin G. Environmental audits of friendliness toward physical activity in three income levels. J Urban Health. 2012; 89(2): 296–307.CrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  56. 56.
    Reis RS, Hino AAF, Florindo AA, Anez CRR, Domingues MR. Association between physical activity in parks and perceived environment: a study with adolescents. J Phys Act Health. 2009; 6(4): 503–9.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  57. 57.
    Schroeder HW, Anderson LM. Perception of personal safety in urban recreation sites. J Leisure Res. 1984; 16(2): 178–94.Google Scholar
  58. 58.
    Adamus HJ, Mama SK, Sahnoune I, Lee RE. Evaluating the quality and accessibility of physical activity resources in two southern cities. Am J Health Promot. 2012; 27(1): 52–4.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  59. 59.
    Macintyre S, Macdonald L, Ellaway A. Do poorer people have poorer access to local resources and facilities? The distribution of local resources by area deprivation in Glasgow, Scotland. Soc Sci Med. 2008; 67(6): 900–14.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  60. 60.
    Crowder K, Downey L. Inter-neighborhood migration, race, and environmental hazards: modeling micro-level processes of environmental inequality. Am J Sociol. 2010; 115(4): 1110–49.PubMedCrossRefPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  61. 61.
    McKenzie TL, Cohen DA, Sehgal A, Williamson S, Golinelli D. System for Observing Play and Recreation in Communities (SOPARC): reliability and feasibility measures. J Phys Act Health. 2006; 3: S208.PubMedGoogle Scholar
  62. 62.
    Cosco NG, Moore RC, Islam MZ. Behavior mapping: a method for linking preschool physical activity and outdoor design. Med Sci Sports Exerc. 2010; 42(3): 513–9.PubMedCrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© The New York Academy of Medicine 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Community and Therapeutic RecreationUniversity of North Carolina at GreensboroGreensboroUSA
  2. 2.Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism ManagementNC State UniversityRaleighUSA

Personalised recommendations