The primary aim of this 24 month long study is to test two hypotheses whose implications could have a profound effect on designing healthier urban neighborhoods in Philadelphia. We hypothesize that first, in a walkable neighborhood residents will exercise more, eat more fruits, and suffer from less obesity. A neighborhood is walkable when a person in reasonably good health can walk to neighborhood amenities such as a grocery store, senior center, or park, and take public transportation. Second, we hypothesize that the relation between walkable neighborhoods and health outcomes will be stronger for persons age 60 and older than for younger persons. We expect this result because older persons are more likely to spend the majority of their day in the neighborhood in which they reside and therefore they will shop for food as well as engage in recreational activities in close proximity to their homes. The hypotheses will be tested by matching data on health and health behaviors from a representative sample of Philadelphians ages 18-100 with geospatial data to measure walkability through a new and unique walkability index called Philadelphia WalkScore. Walkable neighborhoods are integral to a larger agenda run by the applicant, Philadelphia Corporation for Aging (PCA), called """"""""Age-friendly Philadelphia,"""""""" based on the World Health Organization's Guidelines for Age-friendly Cities. Since the spring of 2009, PCA, the Area Agency on Aging for the City of Philadelphia which offers city-wide planning and research resources as well as services for older persons, the Asociacisn de Puertorriqueqos en Marcha A Health, Human Services &Community Development Organization (APM) based in Eastern North Philadelphia, and the School of Public Health at Drexel University, with expertise in walkability studies, have been working to develop a research and policy agenda to transform the area served by APM into a more walkable environment to benefit the older (and younger) residents. Two secondary aims of this study stem from this partnership. The first is to use the Senior Walking Environment Assessment Tool- Revised (SWEAT-R) protocol to look at micro-level design elements in the APM service area. The second is to assemble a design charrette including community members of all ages and appropriate experts in a variety of fields to use the results from the data analyses and SWEAT-R to make policy decisions and to design the next steps in research and practice using a Community Based Participation Research model. We expect that the results of our study will serve as a model for the rest of the city, especially other low- income areas where most of the residents are members of minority groups, and we aim to provide PCA and its partners the foundation to further promote policies that will make Philadelphia an """"""""Age-friendly"""""""" city.

Public Health Relevance

This project will contribute to research in public health by 1) expanding our understanding of the impact of the built environment on health behaviors;2) increasing our understanding of how that relation between the physical environment and health is affected by age;3) improving our ability to measure the quality of """"""""walkability"""""""" on the neighborhood level (which affects access to health services, fresh fruits and vegetables, public transportation, recreation and cultural venues, community centers, etc) and 4) establish an innovative way of commencing a community-based participatory research effort.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR)
Exploratory/Developmental Grants (R21)
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Community Influences on Health Behavior (CIHB)
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Roary, Mary
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Philadelphia Corporation for Aging
United States
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Glicksman, Allen; Clark, Kate; Kleban, Morton H et al. (2014) Building an integrated research/policy planning age-friendly agenda. J Aging Soc Policy 26:131-46
Glicksman, Allen; Ring, Lauren; Kleban, Morton H et al. (2013) Is ""Walkability"" A Useful Concept for Gerontology? J Hous Elderly 27:241-254