Racial/ethnic differences in perceived access, environmental barriers to use, and use of community parks

Susan A. Carlson, Joseph D. Brooks, David R. Brown, David M. Buchner

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction Community parks provide places for people to be physically active. Our objective was to determine how access to, barriers to use of, and use of community parks differ by race/ethnicity. Methods Analyses are based on a cross-sectional national sample of adults (N = 5,157) participating in the 2006 HealthStyles mail survey. Community parks were defined as outdoor public areas within 10 miles or a 20-minute drive from where a person lives that include walking/bike paths, nature preserves, playgrounds, beaches, lakes, rivers, or similar places. Results Overall, 12% of respondents reported not having a community park. Among those with a community park, 14% reported personal safety concerns and 14% reported inadequate or poorly maintained facilities as barriers to park use. Race/ethnicity was not associated with park access; however, Hispanics and non-Hispanic blacks were more likely than non-Hispanic whites to report barriers. Among those with access to a community park, 83% reported any park use in the previous year and, of these, 67% reported an active visit. Odds of any park use did not differ significantly by race/ethnicity. Odds of an active visit were significantly lower in non-Hispanic blacks than whites (odds ratio, 0.67) but did not significantly differ between Hispanics and non-Hispanic whites. Conclusions Parks are valuable community resources to all racial/ethnic groups. To promote and increase community park use, it is important to be aware that parks are used differently by different racial/ethnic groups and that barriers may differentially influence park use.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numberA49
JournalPreventing Chronic Disease
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2010

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Policy
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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