The association between neighborhood environments and health outcomes has long been recognized, but the importance of environmental factors is less well examined in osteoarthritis (OA). We aimed to give an overview of the literature examining the role of neighborhood built environments in the context of OA self-management.
A literature search between 2000 and 2019 was performed using a scoping methodology. Literature examining the influence of neighborhood built environments on health and other outcomes in people with OA, mixed or unspecified arthritis were screened by two independent reviewers. Seven domains were pre-determined based on the World Health Organization European Healthy Cities Framework. Sub-domains and themes were synthesized from the literature.
We included 27 studies across seven pre-determined domains, 23 sub-domains. We identified 6 key outcomes of physical activity, quality of life, community participation, resource use, psychological health, and other physical health. The majority of studies emphasized the importance of neighborhood built environment on supporting OA self-management, particularly for facilitating physical activity. The impacts on other outcomes were also considered important but were less well studied, especially access to healthy food.
This review highlights the potential of better using the built environment to support OA management to address many different outcomes. Understanding the impacts of different environments is the first step, and designing new and novel ways to utilize neighborhoods is needed. Implementing strategies and public policies at a neighborhood level may be a more viable way to curb further increases in the OA epidemic than addressing individual factors alone.
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