Robby Layton Earns Doctorate With Research on Factors Related to Greater Use and Appreciation of Public Greenspace

Illustrating the benefits of parks and outdoor green spaces on peoples' health and wellbeing

At the core of Robby Layton’s studies and dissertation was research on parks and other greenspace located near people’s homes.  Sophisticated methods were applied to determine which factors matter most for people’s opinion of how well greenspace meets public needs, and which ones play the greatest role in the frequency of park visits.  Robby studied community-wide parks and recreation systems in four communities:

  • Cary, North Carolina
  • Montgomery County, Maryland
  • Prince George’s County, Maryland
  • Tulsa, Oklahoma

Determining What Matters to Park Visitors

His findings show that traditional strategies of increasing available park acreage near homes, and reducing the distance from home to a park, are not reliable ways to improve residents’ opinions of the adequacy of the park system to meet needs. They also are not reliable ways to increase the frequency of park visits. Improving the quality of parks and assuring that parks respond to the characteristics of the people that live near them are more likely to achieve the desired results. New ways to measure park quality are needed to inform further research and lead to more effective planning guidelines and policies, such as the measurement of:

  • Comfort
  • Convenience
  • Safety and security
  • Aesthetics and beauty
  • Enjoyment
Robby emphasized that “with better measures of park quality, systems of greenspace can be planned to help achieve many public health and well-being goals including physical health, mental health, social health, environmental health, and economic health.”

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Illustrating the benefits of parks and outdoor green spaces on peoples' health and wellbeing