This study investigates the relationship between the built environment and chronic disease and mental health in Metro Vancouver. Few studies to date have examined systematic relationships between built environment characteristics, activity patterns, obesity, and chronic disease. The proposed study aims to incorporate health into local and regional policy framework by examining the multiple pathways linking the built environment, activity patterns, chronic disease, and mental health. This study will spatially link existing detailed built environment data developed by the Health and Community Design Lab at UBC and a wide range of health-related data from the My Health, My Community Survey in the greater Vancouver region. In addition, this study builds on an existing study (“Health Monetization Project”) funded by the Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR) to monetize the health care cost savings of living in a more walkable built environment. The results of this study will offer insights into potential modifications to the built environment through policy and planning that will promote quality of life and reduce the economic burden of disease in the Vancouver region.
Because policymakers are held accountable for the impacts of their decisions, it is important to evaluate the policy implications of the observed systematic relationships between transportation and land-use decisions, obesity, physical activity, and mental health. To date, existing evidence used to inform major transportation investment decisions has not accounted for the potential monetary implications of these actions on the local and regional economy. This study aims to incorporate health into local and regional policy framework by examining the multiple pathways linking the built environment, activity patterns, physical health, and mental health. The results of this study will offer insights into potential modifications to the built environment through policy and planning that will promote quality of life and reduce the economic burden of disease in the Vancouver region. These are the three aims of the study:
AIM 1: To examine how the built environment features are related to physical activity behaviours, and whether this relationship is modified by obesity status.
AIM 2: To investigate whether the relationships between the built environment, physical health, and mental health differ by individual age, income, and neighborhood-level deprivation.
AIM 3: To evaluate whether the built environment features are inversely related to health care utilization costs, and to test whether this relationship is causal.
2017 – 2019
The team presented preliminary results of Aims 1 and 2 to partners and stakeholders in January, 2018. The team continues to finalize results of Aims 1 and 2 while beginning work on Aim 3.
Principal Investigator: Lawrence D. Frank (HCDL)
Co-Principal Investigator: Jat Sandhu (VCH)
Postdoctoral Research Fellow: Andy Hong (HCDL)
Regional Epidemiologist: Ellen Demlow (VCH)
Student Researcher: Binay Adhikari (HCDL)
This Project is made possible with funding from the Real Estate Foundation of British Columbia.
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