Deakin University
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Differences in park characteristic preferences for visitation and physical activity among adolescents: a latent class analysis

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journal contribution
posted on 2019-03-18, 00:00 authored by Lieze Mertens, Jelle Van Cauwenberg, Jenny VeitchJenny Veitch, Benedicte Deforche, Delfien Van Dyck
In order to optimize environmental interventions, the current study aimed to investigate whether there are subgroups with different preferences regarding park characteristics for park visitation and park-based PA among adolescents (12-16 years). Furthermore, we examined whether the identified subgroups differed in socio-demographics, PA behavior, and park use characteristics (e.g. accompaniment to park, usual activities during park visitation, usual transportation to parks). Adolescents (12-16 years) were recruited via randomly selected secondary schools, located in Flanders (Belgium). Class visits were conducted between September and November 2016 and adolescents were asked to complete an online questionnaire. Latent class analyses using Sawtooth Software were used to identify possible subgroups. A final sample of 972 adolescents (mean age 13.3 ± 1.3 years) remained for analyses. Three subgroups of adolescents with similar preferences for park characteristics could be distinguished for both park visitation and park-based PA. Overall, current results indicate that park upkeep was the most important park characteristic for park visitation as well as park-based PA among at risk subgroups (i.e. adolescents with lower overall PA levels, girls, older adolescents,…) followed by the presence of a playground or outdoor fitness equipment. Among the more active adolescents, especially boys visiting the parks together with friends, the presence of a sport field (soccer and basketball) seems to be the best strategy to increase park visitation as well as park-based PA. Current results provide a starting point to advise policy makers and urban planners when designing or renovating parks that investing in good upkeep and maintenance of parks, and the provision of a playground or outdoor fitness equipment might be the best strategy to increase both park visitation and park-based PA among at risk adolescent subgroups.



PLoS one





Article number



1 - 16


Public Library of Science


San Francisco, Calif.





Publication classification

C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2019, Mertens et al.