Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Study finds with vacant lots greened, residents feel safer

Date:
August 7, 2012
Source:
Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania
Summary:
Greening vacant lots may make neighborhood residents feel safer and may be associated with reductions in certain gun crimes, according to a new study. Results show that residents living near greened vacant lots feel safer than those near non-greened sites.

Greening vacant lots may make neighborhood residents feel safer and may be associated with reductions in certain gun crimes, according to a new study from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. Results show that residents living near greened vacant lots feel safer than those near non-greened sites. Additionally, researchers noted that incidents of police-reported crimes may be reduced after greening. The results expand upon previous studies and are the next step in helping researchers understand the full impact of vacant lot greening on crime, safety, and health.

Full results of the study were published online this week in Injury Prevention.

"Vacant lot greening changes the physical environment of a neighborhood from one that may promote crime and fear to one that may reduce crime and make people feel safer," said lead author Eugenia C. Garvin, MD, a resident in the Department of Emergency Medicine at the Perelman School of Medicine. "Our theory is that transforming vacant lots from a space overgrown with vegetation and filled with trash to a clean and green space may make it difficult for people to hide illegal guns and conduct other illegal activities such as drug use in or near the space. Additionally, green space may encourage community cohesion."

The study is the first to use a randomized controlled trial design -- the gold standard in scientific research -- to examine the effects of vacant lot greening. Researchers randomly selected two clusters of vacant lots -- one cluster which was later greened, and one control cluster which was not. The team worked with members of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society who performed greening of select vacant lots by removing debris, planting grass and trees, building fences, and performing regular maintenance every two weeks.

"Philadelphia LandCare has helped transform thousands of vacant lots in key neighborhoods across the city," said Bob Grossmann, director of the Pennsylvania Horticultural Society's vacant land program. "We know that these improvements help neighborhoods and residents in a number of ways, but studies like the one led by Dr. Garvin help us to determine very specifically how we're impacting the city so we can continue to drive change where it's needed most and in the way that will have the most positive effects."

Twenty one residents living near both sites were interviewed before and after the greening. Survey results show that residents living near the greened vacant lots felt significantly safer at the three-month follow-up visit compared to those near the control site. Additionally, the research team analyzed police reported crime data from three months before and three months after the greening. Total crime, as well as assaults with and without a gun, was less after the greening.

Results from two other portions of the interview are still being analyzed: an in-depth qualitative interview about the impact of the physical environment on health, and a walking interview around the neighborhood, in which residents' heart rates were monitored. The goal of the walking interview was to explore a link between the environment and heart rate, a physiologic marker for stress. Data from the interviews will be published at a later time.

"We know health can be affected by the environment of one's neighborhood, but we know very little about what causes the impact," said Garvin. "One theory is that chronic stress from the neighborhood environment can lead to poor health outcomes, but there are few studies that examine the physiologic basis for this link. By monitoring the participants' heart rate during the walking interview, we hope to get a better idea of how the body reacts to the environment, and how vacant land might influence a resident's health."

Until now, few studies have examined vacant lot interventions to reduce violence and improve health. The results of the new study expand upon a 2011 study led by Charles Branas, PhD, associate professor of Epidemiology at Penn Medicine and senior author on the current study, in which a quasi-experimental, decade-long comparison of thousands of greened and non-greened vacant lots documented significant before-and-after reductions in gun assaults around vacant lots that were greened compared with those which were not.

Randomized controlled trials of vacant lot greening such as the present study provide the next level of statistical evidence needed to provide the best information to urban planners and city officials interested in greening as a strategy to prevent violence and encourage safety. A significantly larger randomized controlled trial examining hundreds of vacant lots is currently under way.

Carolyn C. Cannuscio, ScD, Department of Family Medicine and Community Health also co-authored the study. Funding for the study was supported by a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Health and Society Scholars Educational Fund.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Eugenia C Garvin, Carolyn C Cannuscio, Charles C Branas. Greening vacant lots to reduce violent crime: a randomised controlled trial. Inj Prev, 7 August 2012 DOI: 10.1136/injuryprev-2012-040439

Cite This Page:

Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. "Study finds with vacant lots greened, residents feel safer." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 7 August 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120807104734.htm>.
Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. (2012, August 7). Study finds with vacant lots greened, residents feel safer. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 31, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120807104734.htm
Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. "Study finds with vacant lots greened, residents feel safer." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/08/120807104734.htm (accessed July 31, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Big Waves In Arctic Ocean Threaten Polar Ice

Big Waves In Arctic Ocean Threaten Polar Ice

Newsy (July 30, 2014) Big waves in parts of the Arctic Ocean are unprecedented, mainly because they used to be covered in ice. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

Raw: Thousands Flocking to German Crop Circle

AP (July 30, 2014) Thousands of people are trekking to a Bavarian farmer's field to check out a mysterious set of crop circles. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Amid Drought, UCLA Sees Only Water

Amid Drought, UCLA Sees Only Water

AP (July 30, 2014) A ruptured 93-year-old water main left the UCLA campus awash in 8 million gallons of water in the middle of California's worst drought in decades. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast

In Virginia, the Rise of a New Space Coast

AP (July 30, 2014) Every summer, tourists make the pilgrimage to Chincoteague Island, Va. to see wild ponies cross the Assateague Channel. But, it's the rockets sending to supplies to the International Space Station that are making this a year-round destination. (July 30) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

    Environment News

    Technology News



      Save/Print:
      Share:

      Free Subscriptions


      Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

      Get Social & Mobile


      Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

      Have Feedback?


      Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
      Mobile: iPhone Android Web
      Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
      Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
      Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins