Architecture Program


Date of this Version



Published in Health Environments Research & Design Journal 2015, Vol. 8(4) 12-24; doi: 10.1177/1937586715575908


Copyright © 2015 Jeri Brittin, Sheila Elijah-Barnwell, Yunwoo Nam, Bethany Friedow, Andrew Jameton, Wayne Drummond, and Terry T.-K. Huang. Published by SAGE Publications. Used by permission.


Objective: To compare sociodemographic and motivational factors for healthcare use and identify desirable health-promoting resources among groups in a low socioeconomic status (SES) community in Chicago, IL. Background: Disparities in health services and outcomes are well established in low SES urban neighborhoods in the United States and many factors beyond service availability and quality impact community health. Yet there is no clear process for engaging communities in building resources to improve population-level health in such locales. Methods: A hospital building project led to a partnership of public health researchers, architects, and planners who conducted community-engaged research. We collected resident data and compared factors for healthcare use and choice and likelihood of engaging new health-promoting services. Results: Neighborhood areas were strongly associated with ethnic groupings, and there were differences between groups in healthcare choice and service needs, such as, proximity to home was more important to Latinos than African Americans in choice of healthcare facility (padj = .001). Latinos expressed higher likelihood to use a fitness facility (padj = .001). Despite differences in vehicle ownership, >75% of all respondents indicated that nearby public transportation was important in choosing healthcare. Conclusion: Knowledge of community needs and heterogeneity is essential to decision makers of facility and community development plans. Partnerships between public health, urban planning, architecture, and local constituents should be cultivated toward focus on reducing health disparities. Further work to integrate community perspectives through the planning and design process and to evaluate the long-term impact of such efforts is needed.