Skip to main content
Grant Details

Grant Number: 1R01CA164137-01A1 Interpret this number
Primary Investigator: Dubowitz, Tamara
Organization: Rand Corporation
Project Title: Impact of Greenspace Improvement on Physical Activity in a Low Income Community
Fiscal Year: 2012
Back to top


DESCRIPTION (provided by applicant): Impact of greenspace improvement on physical activity in a low income community Dubowitz/PI PA-10-027 Regular physical activity (PA) contributes to a variety of positive health outcomes, including the prevention of obesity. Increasing evidence suggests that there are associations between a neighborhood environment conducive to PA (e.g., maintained greenspace) and levels of PA among its residents. However, it is unknown whether self-selection biases account for the associations, or whether geographic accessibility causally leads to greater PA. There have been repeated calls for longitudinal studies that could provide empirical evidence on environmental-level changes and their impact on PA behaviors, to strengthen the evidence base to inform greenspace policies and the use of public funds for environmental interventions, especially in low-income neighborhoods. In the near future, a low-income, predominantly African American neighborhood (the Hill District) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania will undergo a multi-million dollar endeavor to renovate approximately 30 acres of greenspace. This research will capitalize on a rare opportunity to evaluate this large natural experiment by assessing greenspace use and PA before and after renovations as well as changes in physical activity levels as measured by accelerometry among Hill residents relative to residents of Homewood, a demographically similar neighborhood in Pittsburgh that also has very limited greenspace but no immediate plans for renovation. We hypothesize that the greenspace renovations will result in increased PA, including more active transport and utilization of greenspace (i.e., parks, outdoor stairwells, connecting trails). Further, we will examine to the extent to which effects are mediated by social cognitive factors and moderated by perceived accessibility, social cohesion, and safety. We propose three specific aims: Specific Aim 1: Determine the impact of greenspace renovations on PA (e.g., minutes of moderate-to- vigorous PA (MVPA), sedentary behavior, active transport), measured by accelerometry and self-report, before renovations and 12 and 24 months post renovations compared to a matched control group. Specific Aim 2: Examine greenspace utilization for PA before and after renovations through direct observation and user surveys in the intervention and control neighborhoods. Specific Aim 3: Determine to what extent the impact of renovations on PA is: a) mediated by social norms and self-efficacy to engage in PA, and b) moderated by physical proximity to greenspace, perceived accessibility, social cohesion and safety. We will engage a large random sample (n=1320) of households from the Hill District and in Homewood. We will collect individual-level, greenspace utilization, and greenspace user data at baseline, 6-12 months and at 18 - 24 months post- renovations. PUBLIC HEALTH RELEVANCE: Impact of greenspace improvement on physical activity in a low income community Dubowitz/PI PA-10-027 Project Narrative Changing the built environment, particularly greenspace renovation, is a way to increase spatial access to opportunities for physical activity, especially in low-income minority neighborhoods. Limited research has been adequately designed to assess the causal impact of environmental interventions on physical activity. Our study will employ rigorous measures of physical activity to evaluate a well-powered, natural experiment to determine whether greenspace renovation can increase physical activity in lower-income, urban African Americans, a critical step to reducing obesity and eliminating health disparities in the United States.

Back to top


Pathways through which higher neighborhood crime is longitudinally associated with greater body mass index.
Authors: Richardson A.S. , Troxel W.M. , Ghosh-Dastidar M. , Hunter G.P. , Beckman R. , Colabianchi N. , Collins R.L. , Dubowitz T. .
Source: The International Journal Of Behavioral Nutrition And Physical Activity, 2017-11-09 00:00:00.0; 14(1), p. 155.
EPub date: 2017-11-09 00:00:00.0.
PMID: 29121957
Related Citations

Attitudes and Barriers to Healthy Diet and Physical Activity: A Latent Profile Analysis.
Authors: Vaughan C.A. , Ghosh-Dastidar M. , Dubowitz T. .
Source: Health Education & Behavior : The Official Publication Of The Society For Public Health Education, 2017-08-01 00:00:00.0; , p. 1090198117722818.
EPub date: 2017-08-01 00:00:00.0.
PMID: 28817966
Related Citations

One Size Doesn't Fit All: Cross-sectional Associations Between Neighborhood Walkability, Crime And Physical Activity Depends On Age And Sex Of Residents
Authors: Richardson A.S. , Troxel W.M. , Ghosh-Dastidar M.B. , Beckman R. , Hunter G.P. , DeSantis A.S. , Colabianchi N. , Dubowitz T. .
Source: Bmc Public Health, 2017-01-19 00:00:00.0; 17(1), p. 97.
PMID: 28103842
Related Citations

Is The Association Between Neighborhood Characteristics And Sleep Quality Mediated By Psychological Distress? An Analysis Of Perceived And Objective Measures Of 2 Pittsburgh Neighborhoods
Authors: DeSantis A. , Troxel W.M. , Beckman R. , Ghosh-Dastidar B. , Hunter G.P. , Hale L. , Buysse D.J. , Dubowitz T. .
Source: Sleep Health, 2016 Dec; 2(4), p. 277-282.
PMID: 28393098
Related Citations

The Power Of Place: Social Network Characteristics, Perceived Neighborhood Features, And Psychological Distress Among African Americans In The Historic Hill District In Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Authors: Flórez K.R. , Ghosh-Dastidar M.B. , Beckman R. , de la Haye K. , Duru O.K. , Abraído-Lanza A.F. , Dubowitz T. .
Source: American Journal Of Community Psychology, 2016 Sep; 58(1-2), p. 60-8.
PMID: 27612324
Related Citations

Are Food Deserts Also Play Deserts?
Authors: Cohen D.A. , Hunter G. , Williamson S. , Dubowitz T. .
Source: Journal Of Urban Health : Bulletin Of The New York Academy Of Medicine, 2016 Apr; 93(2), p. 235-43.
PMID: 27033184
Related Citations

Rx exercise: physical activity is good medicine.
Authors: Stein B.D. , Dubowitz T. .
Source: Journal Of The American Academy Of Child And Adolescent Psychiatry, 2015 Oct; 54(10), p. 795-6.
PMID: 26407487
Related Citations

Are our actions aligned with our evidence? The skinny on changing the landscape of obesity.
Authors: Dubowitz T. , Ghosh-Dastidar M.B. , Steiner E. , Escarce J.J. , Collins R.L. .
Source: Obesity (silver Spring, Md.), 2013 Mar; 21(3), p. 419-20.
PMID: 23592652
Related Citations

Back to Top