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Park attributes that encourage park visitation among adolescents: A conjoint analysis

Summary


Adolescents prefer parks with adventurous and challenging equipment and free of rubbish and graffiti

Both park visitation and physical activity tend to decrease as children enter their adolescent years. This study addressed these concerns by examining the relative importance of selected park features that might influence adolescents’ decision to visit a park.

Ninety-two adolescents representing different socioeconomic backgrounds completed web-based surveys addressing the frequency and duration of their park visits, walking distance to their nearest park, and their preferences regarding park features. Participants identified their preferences through a series of adaptive choice-based conjoint (ACBC) tasks. This procedure allows participants to identify the relative importance of individual park features. Ten park features – identified in a previous study as influencing adolescents’ park visitation decisions — were included in the survey.

Responses indicated that playground slides (particularly long steep slides) were the most important attribute for park visitation by adolescents. The second most important attribute for visitation was the absence of rubbish and graffiti. Swings and walking paths were the third and fourth most important attributes. Tree-lined walking paths were preferred over paths devoid of trees. Twenty-five percent of the participants indicated that they visited a park at least once per week over the last three months; 40% indicated that they usually visited a park for one hour or less; and 48 % usually visited parks with friends.

These findings are consistent with other research suggesting that children desire adventurous and challenging play equipment and that playgrounds tend to promote moderate-to-vigorous activity among adolescents. Adolescents’ preference for parks free of rubbish and graffiti reflects findings of previous studies highlighting the importance of aesthetic elements for encouraging park visitation.

These findings can be helpful to urban planners and policy makers in prioritizing features to be considered in developing and improving parks. Knowing and responding to adolescents’ preferences for park features may increase their park visitation and promote a more physically active lifestyle.

Citation

Veitch, J., Salmon, J., Deforche, B., Ghekiere, A., Van Cauwengerg, J., Bangay, S., Timperio, A., (2017). Park attributes that encourage park visitation among adolescents: A conjoint analysis. Landscape and Urban Planning, 161, 52-58.

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