The role of neighbourhood characteristics in the promotion of physical activity and social participation

People with physical and intellectual disabilities have been rarely the target of general health promotion activities that seek to enhance general physical activity and fitness. Most research in this area so far has focused on individual-level factors, such as demographic and disability characteristics. However, there is some indication that environmental factors play a key role in determining whether a person with a disability engages in activity or not. Particularly, neighbourhood characteristics, such as accessibility and perceived safety but also available assistance may be of critical importance.

Similarly, neighbourhood characteristics may influence other areas of social participation, such as employability, educational attainment, social networks.

This area of research holds potential for considerable exploration of the multi-factorial determinants of social participation, wellbeing and health. The development of measures of environmental dimensions of social participation are of particular interest.

Dr Thilo Kroll