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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Walkabout, social and built environments, and quality of life in older adults Bigloo, Fay


The purpose of this multilevel exploratory study was to determine the effects of Walkabout, a community-based physical activity program initiated by Dr. Joy Butler of The University of British Columbia, on the quality of life (QOL) of older adult participants. This multifaceted study also explored the impacts of physical, built and created social environments on the amount of older adult participants’ engagements in physical activities. A total of 23 older adults participated in the study and 21 finished it. The study was primarily focused on two Walkabout teams, ten participants in total. The members of one team lived in the Richmond area of Metro Vancouver and the other team members lived in an independent living centre in Vancouver’s Westside. Both teams consisted of physically and cognitively independent individuals who were capable of performing their own Instrumental Activities of Daily Living (IADL). The majority of the data were collected from the participants through private interviews and some anecdotal journals. A literature review was conducted. A separate examination of the two neighbourhoods under study was also performed using the Senior Walking Environmental Audit Tool-Revised (SWEAT-R) (Chaudhury, Sarte, Michael, Mahmood, Keast, Dogaru, & Wister, 2011). The findings through a qualitative method demonstrated the benefits of the Walkabout Program for health and life satisfaction, which the older adult participants identified as the most important contributing factors to their QOL. The social environment created through Walkabout was what the majority of the participants enjoyed the most. The older participants considered social networking and social capital as two important factors that contributed to their quality of life. In addition, the study also identified such factors as aesthetics, safety, convenience, distance, and diversity of physical and built environments as environmental attributes that impacted the level of older adult participants’ engagements in physical activity.

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