Article

The built environment, neighborhood crime and constrained physical activity: an exploration of inconsistent findings. Prev Med, 47, 241-251

School of Population Health, The University of Western Australia, Crawley, Western Australia, Australia.
Preventive Medicine (Impact Factor: 2.93). 05/2008; 47(3):241-51. DOI: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2008.03.017
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Personal safety is commonly cited in qualitative research as a barrier to local walking, yet the relationship between safety and constrained physical activity has received mixed support in quantitative studies. This paper reviews the quantitative evidence to date, seeking to explain the inconsistencies, and offers recommendations for future research.
A social-ecological framework was adopted to explore the evidence linking crime-related safety, and factors that influence real and perceived safety, with constrained physical activity.
Perceived safety tends to affect the physical activity of groups already known to exhibit greater anxiety about crime; and some elements of the built environment that influence safety appear to constrain physical activity. However the evidence is somewhat inconsistent, and this may be partly attributed to measurement limitations. Many studies employ generic safety measures that make implicit references to crime or use composite variables that lack specificity. Physical activity outcomes also require consideration, as only activities occurring locally outdoors are likely to be affected by neighborhood crime.
Further research is required to tease out associations between real and perceived crime-related safety and physical activity, ideally employing behaviour and crime-specific measures, and addressing the moderating role of the social and built environments.

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    • "age, sex, ethnic minorities, personal experiences), social and environmental factors (e.g. physical environment, social environment, policy environment) (Foster and Giles-Corti, 2008). Inspired by Giles-Corti et al. (2005), Foster and Giles-Corti (2008), Foster et al. (2010) and Foster et al. (2013), the following specific socio-ecological framework adapted in this study was developed by Sreetheran and Van den Bosch (2014) as a general framework for understanding how personal attributes, as well as environmental and social attributes and their interactions evoke fear of crime in the urban green spaces (see Fig. 1). "
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    • "In fact, prior research has shown the discrepancies between real and perceived safety related to crime (Foster and Giles-Corti, 2008). Given the importance of the sense of vulnerability and fear of crime in affecting PA behavior (Foster and Giles-Corti, 2008; Saimon et al., 2013), it is crucial not only to enhance actions for crime prevention (e.g., community policing and natural surveillance), but also promote community environments in order to amplify the sense of safety and remove barriers to outdoor PA. As some participants suggested, initiatives to encourage people to use public spaces in their communities and increase social interaction should involve the promotion of walking groups, festivals in the parks, sport events, farmer's market, and so forth. "
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