Online Program

Identifying the impact of neighborhood violence on green space utilization and physical activity

Monday, November 4, 2013

Judy Ou, MPH, Department of Environmental Health, Boston University School of Public Health, Boston, MA
Roseann Bongiovanni, MPH, Chelsea Collaborative, Chelsea, MA
Junenette Peters, Sc.D, Department of Environmental Health, Boston University School of Public Health, Boston, MA
Rafael Medina, MS, Chelsea Collaborative, Chelsea, MA
Jonathan Levy, Sc.D, Department of Environmental Health, Boston University School of Public Health, Boston, MA
Jovanna Garcia-Soto, Chelsea Collaborative, Chelsea, MA
Madeleine Scammell, D.Sc., Department of Environmental Health, Boston University School of Public Health, Boston, MA
Studies of the built environment and community health commonly exclude important aspects of the social environment. For example, studies of the association between proximity to green space and physical activity often do not account for fear of neighborhood violence, which may prevent residents from utilizing green spaces and being physically active. Studying the interaction between neighborhood violence and utilization of proximate green space could help identify important issues related to physical activity. We investigated these questions as part of the Chelsea STAR study, an ongoing community-based participatory research project focusing primarily on low-income Latino residents of Chelsea, Massachusetts. One-on-one interviews with 300 Chelsea residents provide data on a number of dimensions of the built and social environment that may influence health, including personal experiences of crime, perception of neighborhood crime, exercise and physical activity habits, and knowledge and use of parks. Questionnaires were adapted from the Exposure to Violence Assessment tool used in the Inner City Asthma Study, and the Neighborhood/Block Conditions tool from the Centers for Disease Control's Environmental Assessments. Preliminary results indicate that 29% of participants fear neighborhood violence, and 24% experienced violence while living in their current neighborhood. Thirty-percent of participants reported knowledge of a violent fight, argument, rape, and/or robbery occurring in their neighborhood within the past six months. No participants reported frequent local park use if the park was not perceived as safe. Multi-level regression models indicate the relationships among measures of violence, green space utilization, and self-reported physical activity while controlling for clustering effects common in neighborhood studies. Our analyses identify the dual impact of the social and built environments on park use and physical activity.

Learning Areas:

Environmental health sciences
Public health or related public policy
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
Describe community members’ experiences with and perceptions of neighborhood crime. Explain how exposure to neighborhood crime can influence a resident’s ability to use local parks and engage in physical activity.

Keyword(s): Environmental Health, Physical Activity

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am currently a working member of the Chelsea STAR project. I developed the hypotheses, collected data, and have analyzed data for the paper described in the abstract for my doctoral dissertation.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.