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Neighborhood poverty, park use, and park-based physical activity in a Southern California city

Author

Listed:
  • Cohen, Deborah A.
  • Han, Bing
  • Derose, Kathryn Pitkin
  • Williamson, Stephanie
  • Marsh, Terry
  • Rudick, Jodi
  • McKenzie, Thomas L.

Abstract

A rich literature indicates that individuals of lower socio-economic status engage in less leisure time physical activity than individuals of higher socio-economic status. However, the source of the difference is believed to be, in part, due to differential access to resources that support physical activity. However, it has not been shown as to whether equal access to parks can mitigate differences in leisure time physical activity. Using systematic direct observation, we quantified physical activity in neighborhood parks in a large Southern California city located in areas with high, medium, and a low percentage of households in poverty. We documented how neighborhood parks are managed and programmed and also interviewed both a sample of park users and a random sample of households within a mile radius of the parks. We found that parks are used less in high-poverty areas compared to medium- and low-poverty area parks, even after accounting for differences in size, staffing, and programming. The strongest correlates of park use were the number of part time staff, the number of supervised and organized programs, and knowing the park staff. Perceptions of safety were not relevant to park use among those interviewed in the park, however it had a small relationship with reported frequency of park use among local residents. Among park users, time spent watching electronic media was negatively correlated with the frequency of visiting the park. Future research should test whether increasing park staffing and programming will lead to increased park use in high-poverty neighborhoods.

Suggested Citation

  • Cohen, Deborah A. & Han, Bing & Derose, Kathryn Pitkin & Williamson, Stephanie & Marsh, Terry & Rudick, Jodi & McKenzie, Thomas L., 2012. "Neighborhood poverty, park use, and park-based physical activity in a Southern California city," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 75(12), pages 2317-2325.
  • Handle: RePEc:eee:socmed:v:75:y:2012:i:12:p:2317-2325
    DOI: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2012.08.036
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. McNeill, Lorna Haughton & Kreuter, Matthew W. & Subramanian, S.V., 2006. "Social Environment and Physical activity: A review of concepts and evidence," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 63(4), pages 1011-1022, August.
    2. Abraído-Lanza, Ana F. & Chao, Maria T. & Flórez, Karen R., 2005. "Do healthy behaviors decline with greater acculturation?: Implications for the Latino mortality paradox," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 61(6), pages 1243-1255, September.
    3. Cerin, Ester & Leslie, Eva, 2008. "How socio-economic status contributes to participation in leisure-time physical activity," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 66(12), pages 2596-2609, June.
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    Cited by:

    1. Walton, Emily, 2014. "Vital places: Facilitators of behavioral and social health mechanisms in low-income neighborhoods," Social Science & Medicine, Elsevier, vol. 122(C), pages 1-12.

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