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The socio-economic variations in the provision, quality and perception of play areas in Glasgow

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In order to examine the possible health implications of outdoor play areas, this PhD used a multi-methods approach to examine socio-economic variations in the provision, quality and perceptions of publicly available outdoor play areas in Glasgow, with the underpinning philosophy that play areas may be used as a locale for children to engage in physically active play.

The locations of play areas were mapped using GIS software and spatial variations were examined by deprivation. A sample (n=100) of play areas in the highest, middle and lowest quintiles of deprivation were visited and an objective quality audit was undertaken assessing their safety and aesthetics. Pupils in P6 (mean age=9.9 years) were recruited from a school in a highly deprived area and a school in an area of low social deprivation. Sixty two “Draw-and-write”activities and four focus groups were conducted with children to investigate preferences for play and benefits and barriers for visiting play areas. Interviews were also conducted with seven play area maintenance men and two mothers to investigate their views on local play provision.

Whilst there was greater provision of play areas in deprived areas of Glasgow, some aspects of their quality were poorer. Children and adults spoke about safety from injury and strangers, and a lack of suitable facilities as barriers to using play areas. Vandalism, misuse and youth disorder were also strong themes in all qualitative research.

The barriers for play for children from a deprived area were of a more serious nature compared to children from a less deprived area and those aspects of safety and incivilities which were objectively measured as worse in deprived areas, were also ones that acted as barriers for parents and children. Thus, it is those children who may be in greatest need for free access to safe and healthy play spaces that face more (and often more serious) barriers to play. Although play areas might provide children with opportunity to be physically active, access to facilities alone may not always mean they are used.

Further research evaluating refurbishments to play areas may help to determine whether improvements made to play areas would impact upon their use and physical activity levels of users.



editors comments

Editor's comments -  [ The above is the abstract from an original PhD thesis; the final publication in the study for the author in pursuit of a doctorate; such works result in the author being awarded a PhD and the title of Dr. by an appropriately accedited University. PhD's are the culmination of a number of years work by the author supervised by two (normally PhD or MPhil qualified) academics and, with the addition of a further appropriately qualified academic (not normally from the same University) as part of a viva-voce examination team. Successful research work at PhD level is designed to add to the body of knowledge in the study area at some level.

A PhD thesis often forms the foundation for journal articles for the author and leads to further enquiry in the form of what is called post-doctoral research. These works are characterised by comprehensive literature reviews, sometimes traditional yet multiple (and often mixed) methods, interesting if not ground breaking discussions and always directional signs toward further research; they provide for undergraduates not only a model for the possibilities for further study but a gift in terms of references in any given subject areas.

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APA reference for this document


Reference :  McAdam, C. M.(2010).The socio-economic variations in the provision, quality and perception of play areas in Glasgow. PhD thesis, Glasgow: University of Glasgow. Available at


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Access this URL ( McAdam, C. M.(2010).The socio-economic variations in the provision, quality and perception of play areas in Glasgow. PhD thesis, Glasgow: University of Glasgow
Last Updated on Tuesday, 28 August 2012 13:47  

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