Published on August 8, 2012 at 5:31 AM
Results from two other portions of the interview are still being analyzed: an in-depth qualitative interview about the impact of the physical environment on health, and a walking interview around the neighborhood, in which residents' heart rates were monitored. The goal of the walking interview was to explore a link between the environment and heart rate, a physiologic marker for stress. Data from the interviews will be published at a later time.
"We know health can be affected by the environment of one's neighborhood, but we know very little about what causes the impact," said Garvin. "One theory is that chronic stress from the neighborhood environment can lead to poor health outcomes, but there are few studies that examine the physiologic basis for this link. By monitoring the participants' heart rate during the walking interview, we hope to get a better idea of how the body reacts to the environment, and how vacant land might influence a resident's health."
Until now, few studies have examined vacant lot interventions to reduce violence and improve health. The results of the new study expand upon a 2011 study led by Charles Branas, PhD, associate professor of Epidemiology at Penn Medicine and senior author on the current study, in which a quasi-experimental, decade-long comparison of thousands of greened and non-greened vacant lots documented significant before-and-after reductions in gun assaults around vacant lots that were greened compared with those which were not.
Randomized controlled trials of vacant lot greening such as the present study provide the next level of statistical evidence needed to provide the best information to urban planners and city officials interested in greening as a strategy to prevent violence and encourage safety. A significantly larger randomized controlled trial examining hundreds of vacant lots is currently under way.
Source: University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine