The impact of a park refurbishment in a low socioeconomic area on physical activity. A cost-effectiveness study

Physical inactivity is the fourth highest cause of death globally and is a major contributor to increases in healthcare expenditure. Improving public open spaces such as parks in areas of low socio-economic position (SEP) may increase recreational physical activity in disadvantaged populations. We assessed the cost-effectiveness of the installation of a play-space in a large metropolitan park in a low socioeconomic area based on changes in physical activity.Observational data of visitor counts and activities undertaken in the park before the installation of the new play-scape (T1), at two months (T2) and 14~Ac^AEUR^Ao/oomonths post-installation (T3) were obtained for the intervention and a control park (with no refurbishment) located in a high SEP metropolitan area. Observed sitting, standing, and moderate and vigorous-intensity physical activity were converted to yearly MET-h according to age. Costs of the play-scape and ongoing maintenance were obtained from the organisation managing the refurbishment. The incremental cost-effectiveness ratio (ICER) (ratio of incremental cost to incremental effect) was calculated based on the incremental increase in MET-h from T1 to T3 assuming a 20-year lifetime of the play-scape. Observation counts combining moderate and vigorous activity were used in the sensitivity analysis.When compared with T1, at T3 the new play-scape resulted in an overall incremental net gain of 114,114 MET-h (95% UI: 80,476~Ac^AEUR^Ao/oo~Ac^A^^A’~Ac^AEUR^Ao/oo146,096) compared with the control park and an incremental cost effectiveness ratio (or cost per MET-h gained per park visitor) of AUD $0.58 (95% UI: $0.44–$0.80). The sensitivity analysis combining moderate and vigorous activity into one category showed an increase in estimated incremental MET-h of 118,190 (95% CI: 83,528~Ac^AEUR^Ao/oo~Ac^A^^A’~Ac^AEUR^Ao/oo149,583) and a lower incremental cost per MET-h gained of AUD $0.56 (95% UI: $0.43–$0.77).Using a benchmark of cost-effectiveness for physical activity interventions of AUD $0.60–$1.30, this study suggests that the installation of a play-scape located in a low SEP area is cost-effective based on its potential to facilitate increases in MET-h.


Journal article


International Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity: 2019