Nursing students posing with Rocky the Red Hawk at the School of Nursing Convocation.
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Dr. Rachel Lyons – Ethnography on Urban Green Spaces

Posted in: Announcements, Climate Action, News, Nursing Now

Photograph of men and women sitting outside in grass.

While emerging research has demonstrated health benefits from active exposure to open green areas or green space (Kondo et al., 2018), little is known how residents within an urban community perceive green space. While green space may be beneficial, if it is not utilized, provision alone will not promote health. For those living in an urban setting, green space may be scarce, difficult to access, underutilized or even unsafe (Han et al., 2018), deepening inequity and hindering health promotion. In addition, the International Council of Nurses (2018) declared that nurses should be involved with health and climate research. This novel study will succeed in contributing to understanding environmental health outcomes, focusing on recognizing and reducing harmful effects of environmental factors, that will likely have an impact on scientific knowledge and ultimately communities.

After conducting face to face, semi structured interviews with residents of Newark, NJ and analyzing the data based on Leininger’s data analysis, patterns emerged that included change as a precursor to accessibility. Residents who had lived in the same urban community for decades discussed how changes in the community and built environment impacted lifestyle and recreation accessibility. The neighborhood changes brought about less green areas and a greater concern about safety. This is consistent of what is reported in the literature, whereby Newark, NJ has demonstrated that despite more greenspace, there is an increase in crime risk (Ogletree, 2019).

If areas that are purported to have positive effects, such as parks and or green space become a venue for illicit behavior and crime, then it is unlikely that residents will utilize them (Kimpton et al., 2017; Shepley et al., 2019; Taylor et al., 2019). As nurses, we must recognize that a change in climate includes a community’s environment which can have a major impact on health and well- being. In addition, identifying causal pathways is essential to mitigate potential health morbidities and the consequences of. Future nursing research should continue to explore these pathways.


International Council of Nurses ( 2018). Position statement: Nurses, climate change and health.

Han, B., Cohen, D. A., Derose, K. P., Li, J., & Williamson, S. (2018). Violent Crime and Park Use in Low-Income Urban Neighborhoods. American journal of preventive medicine, 54(3), 352-358.

Kimpton, A., Corcoran, J., & Wickes, R. (2017). Greenspace and Crime: An Analysis of Greenspace Types, Neighboring Composition, and the Temporal Dimensions of Crime. Journal of Research in Crime and Delinquency, 54(3), 303-337.

Kondo, M. C., Fluehr, J. M., McKeon, T., & Branas, C. C. (2018). Urban Green Space and Its Impact on Human Health. Int J Environ Res Public Health, 15(3).

Ogletree, S. S. (2019). Crime and Greenspace: Extending the Analysis Across Cities.

Shepley, M., Sachs, N., Sadatsafavi, H., Fournier, C., & Peditto, K. (2019). The Impact of Green Space on Violent Crime in Urban Environments: An Evidence Synthesis. Int J Environ Res Public Health, 16(24).

Taylor, R. B., Haberman, C. P., & Groff, E. R. (2019). Urban park crime: Neighborhood context and park features [Article]. Journal of Criminal Justice, 64, 13-22.