Urban environment cues for health and well-being in the elderly
: an exploratory case study of two deprived wards in Portsmouth

  • Maria Anna Gardener

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


Urban elderly population numbers are rising, bringing concomitant financial and practical pressure on public health and transport infrastructure service providers. Although contemporary literature proliferates exponentially to identify links between the urban environment and health and well-being, little has been done to establish which characteristics are perceived to have an impact. These gaps identified in contemporary and grey literature, including healthy city guideline frameworks and Rapid Participatory Appraisals undertaken by Portsmouth City Council in 2016, provide compelling motivations to examine this perspective locally, which this thesis aimed to do.
Mixed research methods were employed in two rounds of interviews with elderly residents who live in Charles Dickens and Fratton wards. Semi-structured interviews were held at community centres with fifteen volunteers and after analysis of outcomes follow-on walking interviews were undertaken with a subset of six of the volunteers. Main findings show that perceived urban health and well-being barriers include issues around accessibility, littering, fly tipping, derelict properties and antisocial behaviour. Perceived facilitators for health and well-being include features that encourage walking, accessibility to green and blue spaces, community pride, social capital and community cohesion.
Findings add significant value to this field of study by informing contemporary literature outputs, complementing and further informing outcomes from the Rapid Participatory Appraisals undertaken by Portsmouth City Council in 2016 and have implications for future policy and practice. Pivotal to the success of this research was establishing and building rapport with potential participants by attending community events for the elderly. Limitations include small sample size that is not representative of the elderly living in deprived wards in Portsmouth, leading to a recommendation to continue this study and expand research in highly deprived wards in the city. In addition, recommendations are made to develop and establish a socially responsible participatory methodological research toolkit in partnership with the University of Portsmouth, Portsmouth City Council and elderly residents living in highly deprived wards.
Date of AwardMar 2021
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University of Portsmouth
SupervisorTarek Teba (Supervisor), Heather Rumble (Supervisor), Liz Twigg (Supervisor) & Fabiano Lemes De Oliveira (Supervisor)

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