There is a paucity of research on the health outcomes of changes to the built environment. This study entails a natural experiment assessing the impact of the ShadePlus intervention on health behaviours and its acceptability to local residents. ShadePlus involves the installation of built shade, walking paths, quality playground equipment and other features in degraded community parks in disadvantaged neighbourhoods. This project partners with Brimbank City Council, who will develop, implement and fund the park improvements. Outcomes will be assessed at three parks selected for the improvements and at three other geographically separate control parks, matched on size and suburb features. The study methods include a pre-test and post-test assessment of a broad range of health-related and behavioural measures of local residents recruited via letter-box surveys, and observations and intercept surveys of park goers in spring and summer months. At the end of the study, residents living close by the intervention parks will be invited to participate in focus group discussions about their use of the newly developed park facilities. This study will provide unique and significant data assessing the potential of park renewal interventions to promote park usage, physical activity, sun protection behaviours and mental well-being in a low socio-economic population.
Dr Suzanne Dobbinson, Prof Melanie Wakefield, Jody Simmons, James Chamberlain
A/Prof Jenny Veitch and Prof Jo Salmon (Deakin University), Adrian Gray (Brimbank City Council)
NHMRC Partnership Grant (1062314) with Brimbank City Council
2014 - present