Curated dataset of accessible and recreational parks in the U.S.:  Comparison to greenspace metrics and sociodemographics

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Matthew Browning , Alessandro Rigolon, Scott Ogletree, Ruoyu Wang, Jochem O. Klompmaker, Chris Bailey, Ryan Gagnon, Peter James


Most spatial epidemiological studies of nature-health relationships use generalized green space measures. For instance, coarse resolution spatial data containing normalized difference vegetative index (NDVI) values are prominent despite criticisms, such as the researcher’s inability to restrain exposure estimates to public (accessible) and private (largely inaccessible) land. Non-threatening natural landscapes can improve health through building capacities for health-promoting behaviors (e.g., physical activity). Such behaviors may be best activated by recreational and accessible parks.

We curated the Parks and Protected Areas Database of the U.S. (PAD-US) to identify parks that are accessible for outdoor recreation. Our title adds “AR” to “PAD-US” where A=Accessible and R=Recreational. We validated the PAD-US-AR by comparisons with “greenspace” datasets and sociodemographics, which demonstrated its uniqueness from other commonly employed metrics of nature exposure.

The PAD-US-AR presents a reliable estimate for exposure to parks accessible for outdoor recreation. It has strong associations with home prices, shares of female residents, and shares of older residents, which should be considered as covariates/confounders. The dataset can be a companion to other nature exposure metrics in environmental epidemiology and allied fields of research.



Epidemiology, Medicine and Health Sciences, Public Health


Greenspace, land cover, Parks, USA


Published: 2022-08-23 05:27

Last Updated: 2022-11-02 17:18

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