Disparities in park availability, features, and characteristics by social determinants of health within a U.S.-Mexico border urban area

Amir Kamel, University of Texas at El Paso

Abstract

Background. Parks have been shown to be a key feature in the built environment that promote physical activity and positively influence health. However, a number of studies have highlighted that park availability, park features (e.g., park facilities, amenities, and aesthetic features), and park characteristics (e.g., quality/safety concerns of the park and surrounding neighborhood) are not equally distributed across neighborhoods in the U.S., specifically areas of low socioeconomic status and diverse racial/ethnic composition. The overall aim of this study was to examine and describe park availability, park features, and park characteristics, and determine their association with two social determinants of health (i.e., median household income and percent foreign-born) in a predominately Hispanic border community. ^ Methods. Park availability (i.e., number of parks) per census tract was obtained from geographical information system (GIS) shape files. Park features and park characteristics were assessed using the Community Park Audit Tool survey instrument. Median household income and percent foreign-born per census tract were extracted from the 2005–2009 American Community Survey for the City of El Paso and used as tertiles labeled as low, medium, and high. Univariate analysis and bivariate associations between park measures and social determinates of health tertiles were conducted using ANOVA for normally distributed variables and Kruskal-Wallis for variables that were not normally distributed using SPSS V19. Multiple pairwise comparisons were conducted for significant bivariate associations. ^ Results. In the City of El Paso, overall park availability significantly differed by median household income, but only between the medium and high income tertiles. Park facilities and park amenities significantly differed across median household income tertiles; park aesthetic features did not. For park facilities, the medium income tertile was significantly different from both, the low and high income tertiles. The number of park facilities, amenities, and aesthetic features did not differ significantly by percent foreign-born tertiles. Park quality concerns and neighborhood safety concerns significantly differed by median household income and percent foreign-born tertiles. The number of park quality concerns in the high income tertile was significantly different from the low and medium income tertiles. The number of neighborhood safety concerns for the low foreign-born tertile significantly differed from the medium and high tertiles. ^ Conclusions. This study further demonstrates that publically available recreational facilities, and their features and characteristics, are not equally distributed across neighborhoods based on income and foreign-born composition. Future research should consider the quality of park features and better assess their characteristics by neighborhood composition, and identify how access to recreational facilities affects physical activity and other health outcomes. Community members, public health researchers, and policy makers need to work together to facilitate processes to make parks more accessible, usable, and safe for physical activity.^

Subject Area

Area Planning and Development|Health Sciences, Public Health|Sociology, Environmental Justice

Recommended Citation

Kamel, Amir, "Disparities in park availability, features, and characteristics by social determinants of health within a U.S.-Mexico border urban area" (2012). ETD Collection for University of Texas, El Paso. AAI1512583.
http://digitalcommons.utep.edu/dissertations/AAI1512583

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