Melbourne School of Population and Global Health - Research Publications

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    Planning safer suburbs: Do changes in the built environment influence residents' perceptions of crime risk?
    Foster, S ; Wood, L ; Christian, H ; Knuiman, M ; Giles-Corti, B (PERGAMON-ELSEVIER SCIENCE LTD, 2013-11-01)
    A growing body of evidence has reiterated the negative impacts that crime and perceptions of insecurity can have on the health and wellbeing of local residents. Strategies that reduce residents' perceived crime risk may contribute to improved health outcomes; however interventions require a better understanding of the neighbourhood influences on residents perceptions of crime and safety. We examined the impact of changes in the objective built environment following relocation on changes in residents' perceived crime risk for participants in a longitudinal study of people moving to new neighbourhoods in Perth, Western Australia (n = 1159). They completed a questionnaire before moving to their new neighbourhood, and again 36 months after relocation. Individual-level objective environmental measures were generated at both time points using Geographic Information Systems, focussing on the characteristics that comprise a 'walkable neighbourhood'. Linear regression models examined the influence of objective environmental changes between the two environments on perceived crime risk, with progressive adjustment for other change variables (i.e., perceptions of the physical and social environment, reported crime). We found that increases in the proportion of land allocated to shopping/retail land-uses increased residents' perceived crime risk (β = 11.875, p = 0.001), and this relationship remained constant, despite controlling for other influences on perceived crime risk (β = 9.140, p = 0.004). The findings highlight an important paradox: that the neighbourhood characteristics known to enhance one outcome, such as walking, may negatively impact another. In this instance, the 'strangers' that retail destinations attract to a neighbourhood may be interpreted by locals as a threat to safety. Thus, in areas with more retail destinations, it is vital that other environmental strategies be employed to balance any negative effects that retail may have on residents' perceptions of crime risk (e.g., minimising incivilities, improved lighting and aesthetics).
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    Do low-income neighbourhoods have the least green space? A cross-sectional study of Australia's most populous cities
    Astell-Burt, T ; Feng, X ; Mavoa, S ; Badland, HM ; Giles-Corti, B (BMC, 2014-03-31)
    BACKGROUND: An inequitable distribution of parks and other 'green spaces' could exacerbate health inequalities if people on lower incomes, who are already at greater risk of preventable diseases, have poorer access. METHODS: The availability of green space within 1 kilometre of a Statistical Area 1 (SA1) was linked to data from the 2011 Australian census for Sydney (n = 4.6 M residents); Melbourne (n = 4.2 M); Brisbane (n = 2.2 M); Perth (n = 1.8 M); and Adelaide (n = 1.3 M). Socioeconomic circumstances were measured via the percentage population of each SA1 living on < $21,000 per annum. Negative binomial and logit regression models were used to investigate association between the availability of green space in relation to neighbourhood socioeconomic circumstances, adjusting for city and population density. RESULTS: Green space availability was substantively lower in SA1s with a higher percentage of low income residents (e.g. an incidence rate ratio of 0.82 (95% confidence interval (95% CI) 0.75, 0.89) was observed for SA1s containing ≥20% versus 0-1% low income residents). This association varied between cities (p < 0.001). Adelaide reported the least equitable distribution of green space, with approximately 20% greenery in the most affluent areas versus 12% availability in the least affluent. Although Melbourne had a smaller proportion of SA1s in the top quintile of green space availability (13.8%), the distribution of greenery was the most equitable of all the cities, with only a 0.5% difference in the availability of green space between SA1s containing 0-1% low income households versus those with ≥20%. Inequity of access, however, was reported across all cities when using logit regression to examine the availability of at least 20% (odds ratio 0.74, 95% CI 0.59, 0.93) or 40% (0.45, 0.29, 0.69) green space availability in the more disadvantaged versus affluent neighbourhoods. CONCLUSION: Affirmative action on green space planning is required to redress the socioeconomic inequity of access to this important public health resource.
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    Complementary medicine use by Australian women with gynaecological cancer
    MARKOVIC, MILICA ; MANDERSON, LENORE ; Wray, Natalie ; QUINN, MICHAEL ( 2006)
    Aims and objectives: Social and cultural factors are identified that impact on complementary therapy use among Australia-born and immigrant women diagnosed with gynaecological cancer. Methods: A qualitative study design including in-depth interviews with women diagnosed with gynaecological cancer (N = 53) and participant observation was conducted. Results: Approximately one-third of women utilized complementary and alternative medicine, with this being determined by current health concerns and health beliefs related to the efficacy of different modalities. Four types of complementary therapy users emerged: consequential, therapeutic, informed and exploratory. Conclusion: There was a relatively low uptake of complementary treatments. Choice was influenced by women’s socio-demographic background, clinical and personal history, lack of personal experiences of gynaecological cancer among study participants’ kin and friends, and lack of popular alternative literature on such cancer.