GIS mapping supports local “My Health Matters” project in Stoke-on-Trent

This guest post was contributed by Graham Smith of Staffordshire University.

The My Health Matters project has been designed specifically to help build partnership with statutory healthcare providers, the local voluntary and community sector to help meet the challenge of increasing physical activity levels and healthy eating in targeted areas within Stoke-on-Trent.

The project is based on evidence that increasing levels of physical activity and healthy eating will help to raise the low levels of life expectancy experienced by the population of Stoke-on-Trent.

This project is funded by NHS Stoke-on-Trent Primary Care Trust. The project will focus on areas within three deprived wards in Stoke-on-Trent:

  • Burslem South
  • Weston & Meir North
  • Bentilee & Townsend

Each ward is similar with regards to socio-economic status (i.e. in the bottom 40% of the Indices of Multiple Deprivation 2007).

The project will be conducted in four phases over a three year period.

The first phase is to produce a detailed baseline map of the built environment in each of the three wards using Geographical Information Systems (GIS) at the level of Lower Super Output Area and integrate this with information obtained from a community postal survey.

Staffordshire University has recently completed a baseline report providing a profile of the built environment within the three wards. Here’s the executive summary (pdf, 1.42mb).

The baseline data reports a variety of measures which form a profile of the neighbourhood environment within each ward.

The measures describe aspects of the environment that can have a positive or negative influence on the health of a neighbourhood population through increasing access to walking destinations or acting as a barrier to physical activity behaviours.

The environmental factors reported are:

Positive factors

  • Population density
  • Access to green space
  • Access to local services, shops and food retail (including fresh food retail)
  • Access to physical activity facilities
  • Street connectivity
  • Land use mix

Negative factors

  • Road traffic levels
  • Road traffic accidents (including pedestrians and cyclists)
  • Crime and anti-social behaviour

All of the measures have been calculated around every residential address within the study areas.

They are reported within a defined neighbourhood boundary representing a pedestrian catchment boundary. These neighbourhood boundaries were created by measuring a 500 metre and 1 kilometre walking distance along all roads and pathways using network analysis.

Screenshot showing distance of residential addressess to green space

© Crown copyright 2007. All rights reserved. Ordnance Survey Licence number 27353.

The baseline results will help a dedicated team of community development workers to facilitate community-led physical activity and healthy eating interventions across the three wards.

This analysis and the community survey will be repeated at the end of year 3 as part of the project evaluation.

This work was completed by the Centre for Sport and Exercise Research and the Institute for Environment, Sustainability and Regeneration at Staffordshire University.

This guest post was contributed by Graham Smith of Staffordshire University.

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