Shaping Pathways to Child Health: A Systematic Review of Street-Scale Interventions in City Streets
International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Street-level built environment factors, for example, walking infrastructure, building density, availability of public transport, and proliferation of fast-food outlets can impact on health by influencing our ability to engage in healthy behaviour. Unhealthy environments are often clustered in deprived areas, thus interventions to improve the built environments may improve health and reduce inequalities. The aim of this review was to identify whether street-level built environment interventions
... an improve children's health in high income countries. A secondary aim was to describe key built environment elements targeted in interventions and research gaps. A systematic review of published literature was conducted by a multi-disciplinary team. Ten intervention papers were included. Physical activity or play was the only health outcome assessed. Most interventions described temporary changes including closure of streets to traffic (N = 6), which were mainly located in deprived neighbourhoods, or the addition of technology to 'gamify' active travel to school (N = 2). Two studies reported permanent changes to street design. There was limited evidence that closing streets to traffic was associated with increases in activity or play and inconclusive evidence with changes to street design and using technology to gamify active travel. Our ability to draw conclusions was hampered by inadequate study designs. Description of interventions was poor. Rigorous evaluation of built environment interventions remains challenging. We recommend a multi-disciplinary approach to evaluation, explicit reporting of built environment indicators targeted in interventions and offer solutions to others working in this area.