Physical activity in green space: a mechanism for reducing health inequalities?

Ord, Katherine L (2013) Physical activity in green space: a mechanism for reducing health inequalities? PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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Background: There is accumulating evidence that greater availability of neighbourhood green space is associated with better health. One mechanism proposed for this association is that green space provides a venue for, and therefore encourages, physical activity. It has also been suggested that socio-economic health inequalities may be narrower in greener areas because of the equalised opportunity for physical activity green spaces provide. However, research, exploring associations between availability of green space and physical activity has produced mixed results. Failure to account for the type and amount of physical activity which occurs specifically in green space may account for these mixed findings. This thesis therefore explored the extent to which green space is a venue for physical activity and whether this could account for better health and narrower socio-economic health inequalities in greener areas.
Methods: Secondary analyses were conducted on two cross-sectional surveys of adults (16+) living in urban areas across Scotland. The first survey included individual level health, total physical activity, physical activity specifically in green space and socio-demographic characteristics. These data were matched to an objective measure of neighbourhood green space availability. The second included self-reported data on green space availability, quality, green space use, health and socio-demographic characteristics. Objective and perceived measures of green space were assessed in relation to (a) health, (b) use of green space and (c) physical activity in green space using logistic regression models. Interactions between socio-economic position and each outcome were assessed.
Results: The objective availability of green space in a neighbourhood was not associated with health, total physical activity or that specifically in green space. The perceived availability and quality of green space was positively associated with more frequent use, but only perceived quality was associated with better population health. There was no evidence that socio-economic inequalities in health, use of green space or physical activity within green space were narrower in greener areas of Scotland.
Conclusion: There was no evidence that physical activity specifically in green space was associated with better health or narrower socio-economic health inequalities. Further research exploring green space characteristics over and above availability, may help determine whether green space is salutogenic in Scotland.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Green space, physical activity, health inequalities.
Subjects: R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine > RA0421 Public health. Hygiene. Preventive Medicine
Colleges/Schools: College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Health and Wellbeing > Public Health
Supervisor's Name: Mitchell, Professor Richard and Pearce, Professor Jamie
Date of Award: 2013
Depositing User: Miss Katherine Ord
Unique ID: glathesis:2013-5014
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 16 Apr 2014 07:34
Last Modified: 16 Apr 2014 07:36

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