A qualitative geographical information systems approach to explore how older people over 70 years interact with and define their neighbourhood environment

Health Place. 2015 Nov;36:127-33. doi: 10.1016/j.healthplace.2015.10.002. Epub 2015 Oct 27.


A growing body of literature explores the relationship between the built environment and health, and the methodological challenges of understanding these complex interactions across the lifecourse. The impact of the neighbourhood environment on health and behaviour amongst older adults has received less attention, despite this age group being potentially more vulnerable to barriers in their surrounding social and physical environment. A qualitative geographical information systems (QGIS) approach was taken to facilitate the understanding of how older people over 70 in 5 UK towns interact with their local neighbourhood. The concept of neighbourhood changed seasonally and over the lifecourse, and was associated with social factors such as friends, family, or community activities, rather than places. Spaces stretched further than the local, which is problematic for older people who rely on variable public transport provision. QGIS techniques prompted rich discussions on interactions with and the meanings of 'place' in older people.

Keywords: Ageing; Environment; Methods; Neighbourhood; Qualitative geographical information systems; Space.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Aging
  • Environment*
  • Female
  • Geographic Information Systems
  • Humans
  • Interviews as Topic
  • Male
  • Pilot Projects
  • Prospective Studies
  • Qualitative Research
  • Residence Characteristics*
  • United Kingdom
  • Urban Population*