Still Separate, Still Unequal: Social Determinants of Playground Safety and Proximity Disparities in St. Louis

Cassandra Arroyo-Johnson, Krista Woodward, Laurel Milam, Nicole Ackermann, Goldie Komaie, Melody S. Goodman, J. Aaron Hipp

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Physical activity among youth is shaped by the natural and built environment within which they live; however, few studies have focused on assessing playground safety and proximity in detail as part of the built environment for youth physical activity. We analyzed data on 100 publicly accessible playgrounds from Play Across St. Louis, a community-partnered study of the built environment for youth physical activity. Outcomes included overall playground safety, maintenance, and construction scores; distance to nearest playground; and distance to nearest top playground. Independent variables included neighborhood % youth, % black residents, % owner-occupied units, and % vacant units. Playgrounds in the city have varying degrees of safety and proximity. Mean overall playground safety score was 67.0 % (CI = 63.5, 70.4). Neighborhood % youth and % black residents were inversely associated with overall playground safety (p = 0.03 and p < 0.01) and maintenance (p < 0.01 and p < 0.0001). Mean distance to nearest playground was 638.1 and 1488.3 m to nearest top playground. Clusters of low safety scores were found in the northern and central areas while all high safety score clusters were found in the southern part of St. Louis. Public playground safety and proximity vary across St. Louis neighborhoods, especially by neighborhood demographics. Disparities in playground safety and proximity reveal an opportunity to develop community-wide interventions focused on playgrounds for youth activity. Further work is needed to examine the association between playground safety, proximity, and use and youth physical activity and weight.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)627-638
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Urban Health
Volume93
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 1 2016

Keywords

  • Built environment
  • Health disparities
  • Playground safety
  • Youth physical activity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Urban Studies
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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