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Am J Health Promot. 2007 Nov-Dec;22(2):98-106.

Women's perceptions of neighborhood resources and hazards related to diet, physical activity, and smoking: focus group results from economically distinct neighborhoods in a mid-sized U.S. city.

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Department of Medicine, University of California San Francisco, 3333 California Street Suite 335, San Francisco, CA 94143-0856, USA.



To investigate women's perceptions of neighborhood resources and hazards associated with poor diet, physical inactivity, and cigarette smoking.


After interviewing city officials and analyzing visual assessments, three economically distinct neighborhoods in a mid-sized city were selected.


Salinas, California, a predominantly Latino city.


Eight fobcus groups, conducted in Spanish or English in the three neighborhoods. Thematic coding of focus group transcripts identified key concepts. Women also mapped their perceived neighborhood boundaries. Participants. Women who had at least one child under age 18 living with them.


Women identified food stores, parks, recreation areas, and schools as key resources in their neighborhoods. They identified fast food restaurants, convenience stores, violent crime, gangs, and drug-associated issues as "hazards". Distinctions between resources and hazards were not always clear cut. For example, parks were sometimes considered dangerous, and fast food restaurants were sometimes considered a convenient and inexpensive way to feed one's family. Women's perceptions of their neighborhood boundaries differed greatly by type of neighborhood-the perceived neighborhood area (in acres) drawn by women in the lower-income neighborhood was one-fourth the size of the area drawn by women in the higher-income neighborhood.


This qualitative, exploratory study illustrates how resources and hazards in one's neighborhood cannot be viewed as having solely one dimension-each may influence health behaviors both positively and negatively.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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