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This article is the author’s final published version in Preventing Chronic Disease, Volume 20, November 2023, Page E97.

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INTRODUCTION: Studies have shown a lower risk of high blood pressure (HBP) among people who live near parks; however, little information exists on how feeling safe and comfortable visiting the park affects blood pressure. We identified associations between neighborhood park access, comfort visiting a park, and HBP to understand how these factors may contribute to disparities in HBP prevalence.

METHODS: The 2018 Southeastern Pennsylvania Household Health Survey of 3,600 residents in the Philadelphia metropolitan area asked if respondents had ever been told they had HBP and whether they had a neighborhood park or outdoor space that they were comfortable visiting during the day. To assess the association between park access and HBP, we built multilevel logistic models to account for variation in HBP by zip code. We examined the effect modification of perceptions of park access (having a neighborhood park, not having a neighborhood park, or having a neighborhood park but not comfortable visiting it) and HBP by race, education, and poverty status.

RESULTS: Both not having a neighborhood park and having a park but not feeling comfortable visiting it were associated with higher unadjusted odds of HBP, 70% and 90%, respectively, compared with having a neighborhood park. Adjusted odds ratios for the lack-of-park responses remained significant (no neighborhood park, adjusted odds ratio [aOR] = 1.4; 95% CI, 1.1-1.7; neighborhood park but not comfortable visiting, aOR = 1.4; 95% CI, 1.03-2.0). A significant gradient was observed for Black respondents compared with White respondents with odds of HBP increasing by perceptions of park access (aOR = 1.95 for people with a park; aOR = 2.69 for those with no park; aOR = 3.5 for people with a park that they are not comfortable visiting).

CONCLUSION: Even accounting for other risk factors for HBP, not having a neighborhood park or not feeling comfortable visiting one may influence individual HBP. Neighborhood factors that deter park access may contribute to racial disparities in HBP.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication 1.0 License.





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