National Cancer Institute
Barbara Brown

I am an Environmental psychologist.

I am an HBRB Grantee.

Barbara Brown, PhD

University of Utah

"I love finding community interventions that support both personal health and environmental health in a "stealthy" way-without requiring that people be committed to healthy behaviors or to environmentalism."

Barbara Brown, Ph.D., is fascinated by the interconnections between environment and behavior. Although often overlooked, environments are crucial to and interdependent on the health and well-being of humans. Her research has examined how the decorations on dorm room walls predict who might drop out of college, how physical features distinguish burglarized from non-burglarized homes, how our positive bonds to places like our neighborhoods relate to our feelings of security in place, and how community designs support walking.

Her current research focuses on a "complete street" intervention that brought light rail, better sidewalks, and bike lanes to an urban neighborhood. This natural community intervention provided an opportunity to examine its impact on the physical activity and Body Mass Index (BMI) of residents surrounding the intervention site. Results show that residents who are exposed to the intervention, by living within 1 kilometer, are more likely to take transit trips in the complete street area. Every transit trip includes at least two walking/biking trips, so transit users show health benefits.

Those who start to use transit lose BMI and gain accelerometer-measured activity. Those who stop using transit gain BMI and lose physical activity. Furthermore, those who have positive place attachment bonds with their neighborhoods are more likely to ride transit, in part because the new transit gets them more interested in going downtown and finding out about places along the transit line. These are significant steps in identifying how natural community interventions can promote health through everyday activity choices, even without requiring people to go on formal diet or exercise programs. Community designs can provide support for physical activity and healthy weight, which helps reduce cancer risks, even while providing a range of additional benefits to communities in terms of air quality, positive community bonds, and transportation access.

Selected Grants
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Project Title
Grant Number
Program Director
Complete the Streets 3 Ways: Effects on Activity and BMI
David Berrigan

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Last Updated: 04/24/2017 08:34:15