Where Matters: Health & Economic Benefits Study

Where Matters I investigated 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. We aimed 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. The study spatially linked 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 and BC Generations 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 offered insights into the potential of modifying the built environment through policy and planning to promote quality of life and reduce the economic burden of disease in the Vancouver region.

 

Where Matters II will expand upon our initial results to include a new wave of data, which will allow the Health and Community Design Lab to assess the longitudinal effects of walkability, further improving our estimations. It will also show our partners how the dynamic monitoring of data could be incorporated into planning and transportation decisions for the betterment of public health.

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.

Timeline

Where Matters I: 2017 – 2019

Where Matters II: 2020 – 2022

Status

The team presented preliminary results of Aims 1 and 2 to partners and stakeholders in January, 2018. Results of Aims 1 and 2 are currently being peer-reviewed. The team continues to finalize results for 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)

Student Researcher: Katherine White (HCDL)

Student Researcher: J. Andrés Delgado-Ron (HCDL)

Funders:

Co-Investigators:

 

 

 

This Project is made possible with funding from the Real Estate Foundation of British Columbia.

Download the Project Fact Sheet below to learn more about this project:

Health and Economic Benefits Fact Sheet

Policy

Press

  • Where matters: Study shows positive health outcomes in walkable, park-rich neighbourhoods [STRAIGTH], July 3, 2019.
  • Suburban, car-dependent living is killing residents in Metro Vancouver: study [DAILYHIVE], May 17, 2019.
  • New B.C. study links chronic disease, health care costs to where you live [VANCOUVER SUN], May 7, 2019.
  • Where Matters: Walkable Places Support Healthy Lifestyles [PLANNING WEST], Fall 2019.

Conferences