Research Papers

A Scoping Review of Canadian Evidence on the Relations Between Urban Form and Health in Children and Adolescents

Version 1
Date added June 19, 2019
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Category 2019 CARSP XXIX Calgary
Tags Research and Evaluation, Session 7B
Author/Auteur Pitt, McCormack, Aucoin, Hubka, Goopy, Hagel
Stream/Volet Research and Evaluation

Slidedeck Presentation Only:



Background/Context: The urban form (or built environment) plays a significant role in child and adolescent (youth) health. Neighbourhood design, including street connectivity, road noise, traffic pollution, and walkability may all influence health outcomes (e.g., injury risk, mental health, respiratory illness, obesity) as well as health behaviours (e.g., walking and bicycling). There is a scarcity of reviews compiling evidence regarding urban form and child health. A review addressing this topic will provide a source of evidence that may effectively inform urban policy and planning decisions while identifying knowledge gaps. It is important to recognize that the way urban form affects youth may vary across regions due to differences in climate, culture, and politics (among others). To this end, a regionally focussed synthesis of scientific literature regarding the influence of urban form on the health and safety of youth (<18 years of age) is necessary.

Aims/Objectives: To undertake a scoping review that synthesizes and maps evidence from Canadian-based studies that investigated urban form and its associated health outcomes among youth.

Methods/Targets: The scoping review will include a robust and systematic search strategy for peer-reviewed primary quantitative and qualitative studies, relevant to youth and the urban form in the Canadian context. We will search 13 scientific databases related to health and the built environment (e.g., MEDLINE, PubMed, Urban Studies). After performing the search and screening titles, abstracts, and full-texts for relevant articles, we will extract key information including sample design and characteristics, study design, built environment variables, health outcomes, and main findings. Extracted information will be synthesized and findings used to identify important relations between urban form and health, and to map the current evidence.

Results/Activities: This research in progress will begin with the database search in November 2018. We anticipate this study will identify key factors within the built environment, and in particular in neighbourhood and road design, that contribute to health and injury in youth. Based on a recent scoping review on urban form and health in Canadian adults, 23 of 56 quantitative studies reported a relation between roadways or traffic and health. We anticipate similar findings in our review but with perhaps a larger emphasis on injury in youth given that unintentional injury is among the most common causes of morbidity and mortality in children, in Canada.

Discussion/Deliverables: This research will identify gaps in current knowledge and guide next steps for our research group, policymakers, urban planners, researchers, and public health professionals. Specifically, by identifying the current state of evidence in the Canadian context, our review findings will be particularly relevant for informing local municipal, provincial, and federal decisions on best practice for improving health in youth, and the development of frameworks for evaluating existing urban and transportation policies.

Conclusions: Robust, rigorous, and consistent evidence is needed to inform Canadian urban planning policies seeking to effectively support health in children and adolescents. This study will provide a single source of evidence that will inform future research and provide policy makers with necessary information related to built environment design and youth health.