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The Associations Between Park Environments and Park Use in Southern US Communities

Authors

  • Jorge A. Banda PhD,

    Corresponding author
    1. Stanford Prevention Research Center, Stanford University, Stanford, California
    • For further information, contact: Jorge A. Banda, PhD, Stanford Prevention Research Center, Stanford University, Medical School Office Building, 1265 Welch Road, Room X1C39, Stanford, CA 94305-5415; e-mail: jabanda@stanford.edu.

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  • Sara Wilcox PhD,

    1. Department of Exercise Science, University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina
    2. Prevention Research Center, University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina
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  • Natalie Colabianchi PhD,

    1. Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, Michigan
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  • Steven P. Hooker PhD,

    1. Exercise and Wellness Program, Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona
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  • Andrew T. Kaczynski PhD,

    1. Prevention Research Center, University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina
    2. Department of Health Promotion, Education, and Behavior, University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina
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  • James Hussey PhD

    1. Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina
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  • Funding: This research is supported in part by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion by Cooperative Agreement Number U48-DP-001936. This research is also supported in part by a cooperative agreement from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Prevention Research Centers through the Association of Schools of Public Health. The findings and conclusions in this report are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Department of Health and Human Services, or the Association of Schools of Public Health.

  • Acknowledgments: We wish to thank the many staff and students who assisted with data collection.

Abstract

Purpose

To document park use and park and neighborhood environment characteristics in rural communities, and to examine the relationship between park characteristics and park use.

Methods

The System for Observing Play and Recreation in Communities measured use in 42 target areas across 6 community parks in May 2010 and October 2010. Direct observation instruments were used to assess park and neighborhood environment characteristics. Logistic regression was used to determine the relationship between the condition, number of amenities, and number of incivilities in a target area with target area use.

Findings

Ninety-seven people were observed across all parks during May 2010 data collection and 116 people during October 2010 data collection. Low park quality index scores and unfavorable neighborhood environment characteristics were observed. There was a significant positive association between number of incivilities in a target area and target area use (OR = 1.91; 95% CI: 1.09-3.38; P = .03).

Conclusions

The number of people observed using the parks in this study was low, and it was considerably less than the number observed in other studies. The objective park and neighborhood environment characteristics documented in this study provide a more comprehensive understanding of parks than other studies. Further examining the complex relationship between park and neighborhood environment characteristics and park use is important, as it can inform park administrators and city planners of characteristics that are best able to attract visitors.

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