Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Location or Design? Association between Neighborhood Location, Built Environment, Preference toward Neighborhood and Behaviors
by Cho, Gi-Hyoug, Ph.D., The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2011, 155; 3477534
Abstract (Summary)

Understanding how the built environment on a neighborhood scale is associated with individuals' physical activity or walking has been a common research objective in urban planning and public health.

Although prior studies have shown evidence supporting the notion that specific attributes of a neighborhood are associated with individuals’ walking or physical activity, very few studies have controlled for the impact of a neighborhood's regional location. Because regional location and neighborhood built environment attributes are likely to be correlated, previous associations are likely to be biased.

In contrast to existing literature, my thesis is based on the assumption that a neighborhood’s location may be associated with walking or physical activity and that this association may be separately identifiable from the influence of the neighborhood built environment on behaviors.

The findings indicated that (1) the neighborhood built environment and neighborhood location had a strong association, even after controlling for potential confounding effects of socio-demographic factors; (2) a neighborhood’s location was associated with walking and transportation-purpose physical activity when the neighborhood built environment and individuals’ socio-demographic factors were controlled; (3) walking for commuting purposes was more strongly associated with neighborhood location than the built environment, whereas walking for shopping-eating purposes had a stronger association with the neighborhood built environment, and finally, (4) the association between neighborhood location and walking became more manifest when residents’ preference for neighborhood type accorded with their actual residential locations.

From a practical perspective, my thesis suggests that, without the provision of better public transportation service to suburban neighborhoods, walkable neighborhood development in suburbs may not be as successful as planners expect. A policy for relocating pro-urban residents in suburbs to the city needs to include sociologists and community-based participatory approaches along with interventions for the built environment.

From a research perspective, when one is examining the association between urban form and behaviors, the locational characteristics of a neighborhood need to be considered separately from the neighborhood built environment. In future studies, activity-based and purpose-specific research designs may be desirable.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Rodriguez, Daniel A.
Commitee: Bendor, Todd K., Forsyth, Ann, McDonald, Noreen C., Rodriguez, Daniel A., Song, Yan
School: The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Department: City & Regional Planning
School Location: United States -- North Carolina
Source: DAI-A 73/01, Dissertation Abstracts International
Source Type: DISSERTATION
Subjects: Geography, Urban planning
Keywords: Built environment, Location, Neighborhood, Physical activity, Walking
Publication Number: 3477534
ISBN: 9781124942056
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