The achievement of a sustainable urban environment and health for all requires the engagement and greater awareness of local communities on issues of environment and health. The Kaunas H2020 CitieS-Health pilot project presents the outcomes of the environmental epidemiological research on the participants’ acquisition of new skills and knowledge as well as on health behavior.
This study, led Regina Grazuleviciene, from the Department of Environmental Science at the Vytautas Magnus University, conducted a cross-sectional study of 1062 residents of Kaunas city, Lithuania, from 2019 to 2021. The researchers analyzed the associations between the neighborhood environmental quality scores and health issues, and the self-reported ratings on the acquired knowledge measured using a Likert rating scale. The findings of this participatory research study are helpful in gaining a better comprehension of the relationship between the quality of the neighborhood and the magnitude of the health-related problems.
“About 42.7% of the participants acknowledged that participation in the research study improved their data collection and interpretation skills, and 58.8% of them stated that the participation improved their knowledge on the links between environmental quality and health”, explained Grazuleviciene.
The participants with increased knowledge more often rated their health as “good”, had a significantly lower diastolic blood pressure, and regularly visited the natural environment. The high impact of participatory research was associated with a higher scoring of the neighborhood environmental quality, higher physical activity, and a beneficial effect on health.
A perceived high quality of the neighborhood was found to be associated with better self-rated health, higher acquired knowledge, and higher physical activity levels. These findings emphasize the value of urban planning in promoting healthy behavior, among them creating opportunities for walking to reach the city’s green spaces or parks. “The problem-based learning approach empowers citizens to solve environmental health problems through acquired knowledge and provides scientific evidence that improving the neighborhood environment that would promote increased physical activity might benefit the society”, concluded the researcher.
Paper: Grazuleviciene, R.; Andrusaityte, S.; Rapalavicius, A. Measuring the Outcomes of a Participatory Research Study: Findings from an Environmental Epidemiological Study in Kaunas City. Sustainability 2021, 13, 9368.
Published: 20 August 2021