Critical attributes of parks associated with physical, mental and social health in older adults: a participatory approach

01 January 2019 → 31 December 2022
Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO)
Research disciplines
  • Social sciences
    • Social psychology
  • Medical and health sciences
    • Public health care
    • Public health sciences
    • Public health services
Project description

Given the rapid urbanization and demographic ageing, the availability of high quality urban parks
will be of increased importance for public health. Despite the many health benefits of visiting parks,
park use is very low among older adults. As resources for park design and refurbishment are
restrained, it is important to know what should be prioritised to increase park use among older
adults. The purpose of this project is to conduct participatory research with older adults to identify
modifiable park attributes that older adults consider important for park visitation and park-based
activities (e.g. physical activities, relaxing, social interaction). First, a quantitative survey study using
interactive maps will investigate park visitation and park-based activities among older adults.
Second, an audit study will objectively assess park attributes related to park visitation by older
adults. Third, qualitative walk-along interviews in parks will be conducted to obtain detailed insights
into park attributes influencing older adults’ park visitation and park-based activities. Next, plans for
park refurbishment will be developed in collaboration with older adults and key stakeholders.
Finally, a virtual reality experiment will examine the effects of changes in critical park attributes on
park attractiveness among older adults. The results will inform park planners on best practices to
design and refurbish parks in order to effectively increase park use among older adults.