How adolescents perceive their communities: A qualitative study that explores the relationship between health and the physical environment

Kristin N Mmari, Hannah Lantos, Heena Brahmbhatt, Sinead Delany-Moretlwe, Chaohua Lou, Rajib Acharya, Adesola Sangowawa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Background: The Well-Being of Adolescents in Vulnerable Environments (WAVE) study was conducted among adolescents aged 15-19 years in Baltimore, Ibadan, Johannesburg, New Delhi, and Shanghai to examine perceived factors related to their health. A preliminary analysis of the data, unexpectedly, revealed that the influence of the physical environment on adolescent health was a dominant theme across every site examined. To explore this further, this paper analyzed the specific components of the physical environment that were perceived to influence health, and how they contributed to various health outcomes across sites. Methods. Researchers in each site conducted in-depth interviews among adolescents; community mapping and focus groups among adolescents; a Photovoice methodology, in which adolescents were trained in photography and took photos of the meaning of 'health' in their communities; and key informant interviews among adults who work with young people. A total 529 participants from across the sites were included in the analysis. Results: Findings showed that while there was surprising uniformity in how adolescents characterized their physical environment, perceived health outcomes related to the physical environment varied by site and gender. In Baltimore and Johannesburg, vacant homes and the lack of recreation facilities were perceived to impact on sexual and reproductive health problems for girls, while among boys they contributed to drugs and violence. In Shanghai, New Delhi, and Ibadan, garbage and trash observed in their communities were perceived to have a higher impact on infectious and chronic diseases. Conclusions: As the world continues to urbanize, our study points to a strong need to examine how the physical aspects of a living environment contribute to the health of adolescents. Specific aspects, such as housing, safety, garbage, and recreational spaces must all be examined as possible pathways for making improvements to health of adolescents, particularly among those living in poor urban environments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number349
JournalBMC Public Health
Volume14
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Apr 12 2014

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Health
Garbage
Baltimore
Reproductive Health
Interviews
Recreation
Photography
Focus Groups
Child Welfare
Violence
Communicable Diseases
Chronic Disease
Research Personnel
Safety
Pharmaceutical Preparations
Adolescent Health

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Medicine(all)

Cite this

How adolescents perceive their communities : A qualitative study that explores the relationship between health and the physical environment. / Mmari, Kristin N; Lantos, Hannah; Brahmbhatt, Heena; Delany-Moretlwe, Sinead; Lou, Chaohua; Acharya, Rajib; Sangowawa, Adesola.

In: BMC Public Health, Vol. 14, No. 1, 349, 12.04.2014.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Mmari, Kristin N ; Lantos, Hannah ; Brahmbhatt, Heena ; Delany-Moretlwe, Sinead ; Lou, Chaohua ; Acharya, Rajib ; Sangowawa, Adesola. / How adolescents perceive their communities : A qualitative study that explores the relationship between health and the physical environment. In: BMC Public Health. 2014 ; Vol. 14, No. 1.
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