Neighborhood environment and resources affect physical activity. This study examined the relationships between San Francisco residents’ perceived barriers to physical activity and policy-maker perspectives of conditions in neighborhoods that are under-served for physical activity.
Nine focus groups comprised of primarily African American, Chinese American, and Latino populations were constructed from 6 low-income neighborhoods to respond to questions based on the social-ecological model about neighborhood recreational opportunities and to offer policy and intervention strategies to increase physical activity. A tenth focus group was conducted with staff members from 7 city departments to respond to neighborhood focus groups outcomes. The transcribed videotaped discussions were analyzed using qualitative content analysis.
Both residents and policy-makers highlighted neighborhood disparities that reduce physical activity including unsafe and unhealthy environments and difficulty accessing available resources. Residents reported fewer available free or low-cost resources than those identified by policy-makers.
Findings suggest that policy-makers would benefit from consideration of neighborhood-level affects of policies on physical activity and local residents’ recommendations for policies affecting physical activity. Concordance between residents’ perceptions and policy-maker perceptions of neighborhood conditions for physical activity was greater than reported in previous literature.