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Park Prescriptions


Given the ubiquity of parks and recreation facilities across the nation, park-based physical activity represents an accessible and scalable approach for the treatment and prevention of chronic disease. Not surprisingly, clinical physical activity interventions in natural environments are gaining momentum and national attention. Pioneering outdoor physical activity interventions through health care providers, such as `Park Prescriptions', a movement supported by the Centers for Disease Control and National Recreation and Parks Association, encourage health care professionals to prescribe visits to local parks to improve physical and mental health among patients and their families. The National ParkRx Initiative is a movement aimed at strengthening the connection between health care and parks and public lands to improve the physical and mental health among individuals and communities. Park Prescription programs give healthcare providers a set of tools to inspire patients to take proactive steps to improve their health by visiting and being active in parks and public greenspace. While numerous studies indicate the efficacy of similar physical activity behavioral counseling interventions by healthcare providers, no studies have specifically evaluated knowledge, skills, or counseling practices related to Park Prescription programs in healthcare settings.

Although Parks and Recreation departments across Kansas have expressed interest in Park Prescription programs, local healthcare providers have yet to be successfully engaged. To successfully develop and implement a program, we need to know what, if any, physical activity counseling practices health care providers are currently doing and if they are open to participating in a Park Prescription program. This project will consist of three phases:

 Phase I: Develop and administer a survey to local healthcare providers to understand:

  1. Current physical activity counseling practices
  2. Knowledge/interest in participating in a Park Prescription Program
  3. Barriers/resources needed for successful implementation

 Phase II: Park Prescription Program

  1. Create a Park Prescription Community Advisory Board
  2. Develop program components including park information database/website, marketing and promotional materials, enrollment of local providers
  3. Implementation

 Phase III: Program evaluation and maintenance

  1. Process evaluation
  2. Outcome evaluation

For more information on Park Prescription programs or how to get involved, please contact Dr. Gina Besenyi at gbesenyi@ksu.edu


Other resources:

ParkRx Website

Park Prescription Toolkit

National Park and Recreation Association  

National Park Service

National Geographic