Open Access Research article

Neighbourhood safety and area deprivation modify the associations between parkland and psychological distress in Sydney, Australia

Shanley Chong12*, Elizabeth Lobb12, Rabia Khan4, Hisham Abu-Rayya5, Roy Byun1 and Bin Jalaludin13

Author Affiliations

1 Centre for Research, Evidence Management and Surveillance, Sydney and South Western Sydney Local Health Districts, Locked Bag 7279 Liverpool BC, Sydney, NSW, 1871, Australia

2 South Western Sydney Clinical School, University of New South Wales, Locked Bag 7017 Liverpool BC, Sydney, NSW, 1871, Australia

3 School of Public Health and Community Medicine, University of New South Wales, Locked Bag 7017 Liverpool BC, Sydney, NSW, 1871, Australia

4 Bureau of Health Information, Ministry of Health, Sydney, Australia

5 School of Psychological Science, La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia; and School of Psychology, The University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia

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BMC Public Health 2013, 13:422  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-13-422

Published: 1 May 2013



The aim of this study was to investigate how perceived neighbourhood safety and area deprivation influenced the relationship between parklands and mental health.


Information about psychological distress, perceptions of safety, demographic and socio-economic background at the individual level was extracted from New South Wales Population Health Survey. The proportion of a postcode that was parkland was used as a proxy measure for access to parklands and was calculated for each individual. Generalized Estimating Equations logistic regression analyses were performed to account for correlation between participants within postcodes, and with controls for socio-demographic characteristics and socio-economic status at the area level.


In areas where the residents reported perceiving their neighbourhood to be “safe” and controlling for area levels of socio-economic deprivation, there were no statistically significant associations between the proportion of parkland and high or very high psychological distress. In the most disadvantaged neighbourhoods which were perceived as unsafe by residents, those with greater proportions of parkland, over 20%, there was greater psychological distress, this association was statistically significant (20-40% parkland: OR=2.27, 95% CI=1.45-3.55; >40% parkland: OR=2.53, 95% CI=1.53-4.19).


Our study indicates that perceptions of neighbourhood safety and area deprivation were statistically significant effect modifiers of the association between parkland and psychological distress.

Parklands; Greenspace; Mental health; Psychological distress; Area deprivation