Research Briefs

GP RED publishes Research Briefs that are journalistic summaries of the current state of research and/or methods as they relate to promoting health in community settings. Research Briefs highlight and present overviews of significant studies, programs, and policies using evidence-based approaches. They are aimed at practitioners as a summary of a single study that may or may not have been previously published, or a synopsis/review of research relative to a topic with an emphasis on what the research means and how to use it in the management of services. 

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Research Brief #1, Walkability Standards
Research Brief #2, Positive Policy and Practices: Concept, Context & Process
Research Brief #3, GP REDLine Survey Results: Where Do You Get Your Research Information?
Research Brief #4, Using Image-Based Participatory Action Research to Improve Community Health: Photo Voice
Research Brief #5, Why Leisure Organizations Fail to Seize Community Development Opportunities: Suggestions for Improving Collaborative Success
Research Brief #6, GP REDLine Survey Results: Emergency Preparedness>
Research Brief #7, Pueblo Plug In To Nature
Research Brief #8, Think Tanks
Research Brief #9, Community Engagement
Research Brief #10, Collaborative Initiatives to Address Health in Parks and Recreation

 

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walkability-study-shdoGP RED Research Brief #1
Walkability Standards

by: Robby Layton, FASLA, PLA, CPRP

The increasing interest in walking as a healthy and sustainable means of getting around highlights a need to fill the gaps in what is known about walking as a form of transportation. Planners have traditionally relied on normative standards rather than ones based on evidence to determine time and distance relationships associated with walkability. This paper reports the results of an activity designed to test basic assumptions about walking speed and distance in the built environment and provides suggested guidelines for use in planning for walkability.

Determining how far apart to space things like parks, trails and transit stops has a direct bearing on the cost of providing such services to the public. Placing facilities too far away may discourage people from using them, while spacing them too close together is inefficient. It is important to get it right.

Parks are a good example. Providing parks within walking distance of people’s homes has long been a basic principle of urban planning. But serious study of the relationship between walking and parks has been lacking, so planners have relied on general practices and rules of thumb, rather than standards based on research. The increasing emphasis of walking as a viable and desirable means of transportation highlights a need to fill the gaps in what is known about walking as it relates to parks and other destinations.

Questions such as how far and how fast people walk; what influences their choices of when to walk and where to walk; and other behavioral aspects of walking have relevance to an expanding cadre of people interested in walking.

Click here to read the rest of this briefing.

About Robby Layton
Robby is a member of GP RED’s Operating Board and a Principal at Design Concepts, CLA, Inc., a landscape architecture and planning firm. He is also a PhD student and instructor at North Carolina State University’s College of Design, where he is researching the links between physical attributes of public greenspace and people’s perceptions of how they are served by the public greenspace that exists in proximity to where they live.

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GP RED Research Brief #2RB-2

Positive Policy and Practices:
Concept, Context & Process

by David M. Compton, MS, MPH, Ed.D

Part of the GP RED series of Research Briefs for translational research – providing good information for public parks and recreation agency administrators.

Most public policies aim to restrict, prohibit, or otherwise serve as notice of punitive actions for those guests who violate their intent or mandate. These policies focus directly on those citizens who use public parks and recreation on assets and/or affordances. Public park and recreation agencies are charged with serving the diverse needs of a community. As a public service these agencies must abide by established law, statute, ordinances. These public policies are often nested in language that aims to control behavior, protect property and provide safe places to play, recreate or enjoy leisure time. The challenge to agencies is that these policies require enforcement to insure safety and avoid litigation. Consequently agencies default to policies and practices that are viewed as punitive. The central issue is that approaching a breach of rule by expelling guests is counter-productive. This is especially true for children and youth who are the lifeblood of youth sports. Recent research indicates that dropout rates of 5-15 year old youth have increased significantly. Creating and sustaining brand loyal guests (especially children and youth) is not just essential to agency ledgers, it is critical to address public health issues such as obesity. Positive policy options represent a transformative process that may reverse the dropout trends.

Click here to read the rest of this briefing.

About David M. Compton, MS, MPH, Ed.D
David is a GP RED Senior Research Fellow, Founder of Healthy Communities Research Group, Professor Emeritus at Indiana University and University of Utah. ©2015

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GP RED Research Brief #3GP RED-Summer Research Survey.indd

GP REDLine Survey Results:
Where Do You Get Your Research Information?

By C. Chris Cares

Part of the GP RED series of Research Briefs for translational research – providing good information for public parks and recreation agency administrators.

This report summarizes results from a brief online survey conducted by GP RED during the summer of 2014 as a part of the REDLine Survey Initiative. This study examined research resources and data accessibility across a variety of professional employment positions. Preferred sources for information, conference attendance, satisfaction with quality and availability of research, and comments and suggestions on professional research are evaluated. The results provide insight and understanding regarding commonly-used professional research sources and identifies potential areas for improvement to further enhance accessibility and quality.

Click here to read the rest of this briefing.

About C. Chris Cares:
C. Chris Cares is the Founding Partner of RRC Associates, and current President of the Operating Board of Directors for GP RED. Chris has a Masters in City Planning from Harvard University, and possesses a strong background in planning, along with practical applications of research and survey techniques, especially for application for parks, recreation, open space, trails, and tourism related topics for local and state governmental agencies. Chris can be reached at Chris@RRCAssociates.com

©July, 2015

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GP RED Research Brief #4GP Red-Photovoice.indd

Using Image-Based Participatory Action Research to Improve Community Health: Photo Voice

By: Karla Henderson, PhD, and Cindy Heath, CPRP

Recent years have seen a proliferation of new research methods. Participatory research as well as image-based analysis has been used in numerous ways, particularly related to community health. Participatory action research (PAR) is focused on integrating knowledge with action and collaborating with people in a community.

Image-based research is associated with PAR and might be applied with names such as photo elicitation, photovoice, photo vision, photo mapping, visual analysis, and photographic representation. All of these approaches allow observations of particular phenomena and have slightly different strategies, but all may be used to collect and apply information about a specific topic. The use of visual techniques such as photovoice and photo mapping have been particularly useful in helping understand how people view health environments.

The purpose of this research brief is to introduce the use of photovoice and photo mapping, and to illustrate how photovoice, in particular, has been used in two studies with young people in communities.

Click here to read the rest of this briefing.

About Karla Henderson, PhD:
Karla A. Henderson is currently a Professor Emeritus in the Department of Parks, Recreation, and Tourism Management at North Carolina State University. She has given numerous presentations throughout North America, South American, Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia and publishes regularly in a variety of journals in the field. She is a member of the Academy of Leisure Sciences, American Academy of Parks and Recreation Administrators, American Leisure Academy, and the World Leisure Academy.  When not working, Karla enjoys hiking in the Rocky Mountains, running and playing her trumpet in North Carolina, traveling around the world, and reading and writing wherever she goes.

About Cindy Heath, CPRP
Cindy is the Executive Director of GP RED, and has 30 years of experience in public parks and recreation agency leadership. She presents nationally on building healthy communities, the health and economic impacts of active transportation systems and green initiatives. Cindy is a member of the National Complete Streets Coalition Speaker’s Bureau, the Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center Healthy Eating Active Living Coalition, and served as the Chair of the 2009 NRPA Congress Program Committee. Cindy is the creator of Safe Routes to Play©, a GP RED planning initiative which develops safe, non-motorized connections for children and families between play spaces, schools, and neighborhoods.

©July 2015

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research-brief 5-shdoGP RED Research Brief #5

Why Leisure Organizations Fail to Seize Community Development Opportunities: Suggestions for Improving Collaborative Success

John Henderson, Research and Evaluation Manager
The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, GP RED Board Member

The prevailing organizational culture within local government often inhibits the ability to maximize opportunities to collaborate with other entities such as other government agencies, non-profit organizations, and civic associations. The most prominent characteristics that prevent collaboration are customer service orientation, slow deliberative decision-making, and risk aversion. Even with an avowed interest and willingness to collaborate, the cultural differences among collaborators can be difficult to bridge.

This paper focuses on the typical community center operated by a park and recreation agency and examines ways the agency can leverage resource investment in a community center to create synergistic benefit for the larger community beyond benefits received by individuals participating in programs and events at the center.

The purpose of this research brief is to illustrate why collaboratively engaging with residents is important for park and recreation agencies, especially with youth in neighborhoods that are socially and economically distressed. A community center was defined as a building where community residents may gather for leisure activities that are social, recreational, educational, or cultural. Staff in these centers can provide ties to resources outside the neighborhood, which can be transformative for neighborhood residents.

Click here to read the rest of this briefing.

©August 2015

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REDLine-Survey-EmergencyGP RED Research Brief #6

GP REDLine Survey Results: Emergency Preparedness

Chris Cares and Paula Ninger
RRC Associates

This report summarizes the results from a brief survey conducted by GP RED during summer 2015 as a part of the RED LINE survey initiative. This research was related to the topic of emergency preparedness and explores the general level of preparedness for an emergency or disaster, experiences with emergencies, and tools and protocols currently in place to provide community relief and recovery during disasters. Respondents represented a relatively diverse array of different organization types and departments, ensuring that the answers provided reflect a variety of sectors. The survey was distributed via email to the GP RED master list. A total of 34 responses were received from this survey request.

Click here to read the rest of this briefing.

About C. Chris Cares:
C. Chris Cares is the Founding Partner of RRC Associates, and current President of the Operating Board of Directors for GP RED. Chris has a Masters in City Planning from Harvard University, and possesses a strong background in planning, along with practical applications of research and survey techniques, especially for application for parks, recreation, open space, trails, and tourism related topics for local and state governmental agencies. Chris can be reached at Chris@RRCAssociates.com

©November, 2015

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 GP RED Research Brief #7RB-7

Plug in to Nature

Many community leaders are concerned about the future of their communities and especially the connections that children have to nature. The goal of the Pueblo Plug in to Nature study was to reveal gaps and barriers that inhibited connections to nature, and identify opportunities to increase access to the outdoors for residents in the low‐moderate income census block within the city. The collaborative effort by the Project Team and Advisory Committee in undertaking the Pueblo Plug in to Nature study established the importance of access to nature and the outdoors as a contributor to individual and community health. Achievable recommendations evolved through a detailed analysis of the availability of nature‐based opportunities in Pueblo, and a youth and community engagement process. By concurrently addressing policies, infrastructure, and community engagement, the City of Pueblo and its partners have the potential to create a positive shift in the ability of all citizens, and particularly the youth of Pueblo, to access nature and the outdoors now and for generations to come.

Click Here to read the rest of this briefing.

©April, 2016

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 GP RED Research Brief #8

Think Tanks

A think tank, also sometimes called a think factory, brain trust, group of experts, or workshop, is a gathering of people organized to solve complex problems and/or predict and plan future developments. A think tank can be a formal policy institute/organization, or a one-time gathering of people focusing on a particular topic. GP RED has hosted three think tank workshops in the past eight years (2008, 2012, and 2014). The themes addressed have been, respectively: Contemporary Management Issues, Building Healthy Communities, and Innovations in Leadership and Planning. A fourth GP RED Think Tank took place in November, 2016, with the theme of Green Places, Healthy Communities: Innovations & Solutions.

The GP RED Think Tanks have some of the best minds in the industry participate in a facilitated forum to foster knowledge growth, networking, and improve professional competencies. These forums have aimed to enable agencies and professionals at the local, state, academic, and federal levels to promote exchange through their related associations.

This Research Brief summarizes discussions that occurred at the 2014 Think Tank held in Estes Park, Colorado. Professionals in the fields of parks, recreation, conservation, trails, land management, public health, tourism, active transportation, and related associations were invited to the forum. Participants completed an application about why they wanted to attend and what they believed were the most important issues facing their field. The Think Tank was intended to provide both professional and individual development for individuals who wished to make a commitment to social change and personal growth.

Click Here to read the rest of this briefing.

©June, 2016

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 GP RED Research Brief #9

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Community Engagement

This Research Brief summarizes the results from a short survey conducted by GP RED during summer 2016 as a part of the REDLine survey initiative. This research addressed the topic of community engagement and explored the perceived effectiveness of community engagement techniques, recent use of surveys, an evaluation of survey distribution methods, and an exploration of creative methods for outreach. Respondents originated from an array of geographical locations, which ensured that the answers provided reflected a variety of locales. The survey was distributed via email to the GP RED national email master list, with an emailed reminder to encourage response. A total of 42 completed responses were received from the invitations.

The Survey suggests that focus groups, task forces (i.e., dedicated committees for specific purposes), and random sampling surveys are perceived as the most effect techniques for gathering information and encouraging community engagement. More agencies reported using random sampling (“statistically valid”) surveys than general surveys conducted without systematic sampling. Concerning the most effective techniques for survey distribution, Web/Internet based methodologies were rated most effective, followed by intercept techniques and mail-based programs. Social media efforts were also deemed effective in some settings. Phone surveys were rated lowest in effectiveness. For communities that had identified a best method for distributing surveys, mail and Web/Internet were most identified by a large majority–almost two to one over other techniques. The survey evaluated creative techniques for outreach to special populations and the results suggested no silver bullet. Communities identified not having success more often than being successful in this area. Among those reporting success, focus group opportunities and door-to-door outreach were mentioned. The survey indicated that many communities are engaged in various types of youth-specific outreach.

The conclusion is that there are a variety of proven tools that may be considered; the appropriate techniques will depend on particular situations but this survey provides quantitative findings that indicate current use and perceived strengths of alternative methods.

Click Here to read the rest of this briefing.

©August, 2016

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GP RED Research Brief #10

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Collaborative Initiatives to Address
Health in Parks and Recreation

Over the past decade the obesity issue in America has received increased attention. With this attention have come numerous federal, state, and local initiatives, programs, campaigns, and grants to address the issue. Public parks and recreation agencies have not always been the core agent sought to address the issue in spite that they are a key purveyor of services to citizens seeking an active lifestyle.

National health agencies, the medical profession, various professional organizations, and public school systems have repeatedly focused efforts to contain and reverse the rising rates of obesity. Yet, several decades later, few solutions, evidence based programs, or interventions have turned the crisis around. Obesity is a multifaceted issue that requires collaborative efforts of government, disciplines (e.g., education, public health), merchants, and all citizens. The cost to each citizen in the form of health care, lost worker productivity, and quality of life is astronomical.

Public park and recreation agencies have a vital role to play in addressing the obesity health issue. These agencies have operated for over 50 years using the same model. The necessity to modernize planning, service delivery, and system analytics is evident and required. New collaborative initiatives such as the Liberty Community Health Action Team (LCHAT) in Liberty, MO provide a model for community collaboration. The Liberty Parks and Recreation Department, working with GP RED and other stakeholders, has served as a catalyst in securing funding, assembling the coalition of agency representatives, and forging ahead with policy, practice, and planning initiatives aimed at addressing change in practice, policy, and structure. Clay County Public Health Center, has been the primary agent in the formative process of creating, sustaining, and securing
funding for LCHAT operations. Liberty, MO is a sentinel community seeking to improve citizen health and
well-being by creating an evidence based model of community collaboration.

Click Here to read the rest of this briefing.

© January 2017