Online Program

DC PARK RX: Connecting Patients to Parks to Prevent Chronic Disease

Tuesday, November 3, 2015 : 8:30 a.m. - 8:50 a.m.

Robert Zarr, MD, MPH, UNITY HEALTH CARE, INC., Washington, DC

Studies show a strong correlation between time spent outdoors and improved chronic disease outcomes, but little is known whether prescribing parks results in increased activity outside.  DC Park Rx is a database and toolkit to help child health providers prescribe parks.  This study evaluated changes in behavior and attitude among 225 families who were prescribed parks using the electronic health record (EHR).

Three hundred forty-two parks were mapped and rated for cleanliness, accessibility, activities, amenities, and safety.  From July-December 2013, providers prescribed parks to children 0-18 years during well-child, obesity, and asthma visits.  Surveys were administered to parents immediately before and 3 months after the visit.  Chi-Square and paired T-Tests were conducted.

After DC Park Rx, more children visited parks (93% vs. 82%)(P<0.01), more parents believed physical activity affected their child’s health (42% vs. 32%)(P<0.03), mean weekly physical activity increased from 150 to 172 minutes (P< 0.01), and mean number of days per month spent in a park for 30+ minutes increased from 6.8 to 8.3 (P<0.01).

Health provider’s prescribing parks increases physical activity and time spent in parks.  DC Park Rx is an effective and efficient tool to increase outdoor physical activity.

Learning Areas:

Basic medical science applied in public health
Public health or related education
Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
Define park prescriptions and the scientific evidence to support the positive health effects as a result of time spent in natural settings, particularly parks. Describe successful Park Rx models and share preliminary data that demonstrate their effectiveness in communities. Explore strategies for building a successful partnership between parks, healthcare providers, and community leaders. Explore policy implications of expansion of Park Rx, especially in terms of improved health outcomes, health care cost savings, and the use of health information technology in community resource access.

Keyword(s): Built Environment, Physical Activity

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am a board-certified public health pediatrician who trained at the University of Texas School of Public Health, Baylor College of Medicine and Texas Children’s Hospital. I am faculty at Children’s National Medical Center and George Washington University’s Milken Institute School of Public Health. I serve as Past President of the American Academy of Pediatrics DC Chapter, President of Physicians for a National Health Program, and am founder and director of DC Park Prescription.
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.