Study of Active Neighborhoods in Detroit (StAND): Study protocol for a natural experiment evaluating the health benefits of ecological restoration of parks.

Amber Pearson*, Karin Pfeiffer, Joseph Gardiner, Teresa Horton, Rachel Buxton, Ruth Hunter, Victoria Breeze, Thomas McDade

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Abstract

Background
Individuals living in deprived inner cities have disproportionately high rates of cancers, Type 2 diabetes and obesity, which have stress- and physical inactivity-related etiologies. This study aims to quantify effects of ecological park restoration on physical activity, stress and cardio-metabolic health outcomes.

Methods
The Study of Active Neighborhoods in Detroit is a quasi-experimental, longitudinal panel natural experiment with two conditions (restored park intervention (INT) and control (CNT)) and annual measurements at baseline and 3-years post-restoration. Individuals (sampled within 500 m of an INT/CNT park) serve as the unit of analysis. Restoration (n = 4 parks) involves replacing non-native plants and turf with native plants; creating trails; posting signage; and leading community stewardship events. The CNT condition (n = 5) is an unmaintained park, matched to INT based on specified neighborhood conditions. Recruitment involves several avenues, with a retention goal of 450 participants. Park measures include plant/avian diversity; usage of the park (SOPARC); signs of care; auditory environment recordings; and visual greenness using 360 imagery. Health outcomes include device-based physical activity behavior (primary outcome); salivary cortisol (secondary outcome); and several downstream health outcomes. Exposure to the INT will be assessed through visual contact time and time spent in the park using GPS data. Changes in health outcomes between years and INT versus CNT will be tested using generalized linear (mixed) models.

Discussion
Our study will examine whether restored urban greenspaces increase physical activity and lower stress, with public health planning implications, where small changes in neighborhood greenspaces may have large health benefits in low-income neighborhoods.
Original languageEnglish
Article number638
JournalBMC Public Health
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 08 May 2020

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