As a feature of the built neighborhood environment, parks have been associated with a range of positive health outcomes. Recognition of these contributions has prompted advocates to suggest parks are a part of our healthcare system. Despite these developments, park investments have declined over the past decade nationally, lagging behind expenditures on other community services such as health. Perhaps the idea of parks as a solution to the nation's health concerns has not diffused across the population. To date, however, public perception of parks' role in healthcare has not been documented. This study responds to this gap by assessing whether parks are perceived as an essential part of the healthcare system. Self-administered surveys were completed by a statewide sample of Pennsylvania adults (2014) and by a sample of primary care clinic visitors in Hershey, Pennsylvania (2015). Participants from both studies were asked the extent they agreed with the following statement: Parks, trails, and open space are an essential component of our healthcare system. Response was also compared across demographic characteristics to assess whether this belief was universally held. Findings indicate 73% of the statewide sample and 68% of the clinical sample agreed parks, trails, and open space are an essential element of the healthcare system. Males, those with lower levels of educational attainment, and rural residents were statistically less likely to agree with this statement. Results indicate widespread belief in parks as an essential part of the healthcare system, suggesting consideration of health-sector investments in these settings.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Health Informatics
- Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health