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Californians’ Perceptions of the Influence of Parks and Recreation on Quality of Life

Kelly S. Bricker, William W. Hendricks, Jerusha B. Greenwood, Carol A. Aschenbrenner


At the heart of parks and recreation is the underlying goal of improving the quality of life of individuals and contributing to healthy communities. Quality of life has been both theoretically and empirically linked to healthy people and communities; therefore, investigation of the relationship between parks and recreation and quality of life is imperative for the rationale that parks and recreation is a critical public services component of any community.  Although definitions and approaches to measure it differ, quality of life typically includes subjective or personal factors and objective or external factors.  A recent approach to measuring quality of life is to use a multidimensional concept that includes indicators and attitudinal measures. This method was employed by Andereck and Nyaupane (2011a) to examine how tourism affects quality of life among individuals in communities. Our study adapted a scale developed by Andereck and Nyaupane to investigate the influence of parks and recreation on quality of life for California residents, as a component of the state’s Statewide Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation Plan.  To do this, we formulated two research questions: (1) What is the influence of parks and recreation on perceived quality of life within their community?, and  (2) Does a person’s perception of the personal benefit from parks and recreation influence perception of quality of life in a community?  The questionnaire included three sets of scales that were combined into a parks and recreation quality of life index (PRQOL) to measure residents’ perceived QOL impacts of parks and recreation.  Five PRQOL domains (community pride and awareness, quality infrastructure and community, economic vitality, natural/cultural preservation, crime and substance abuse) developed from the data by employing Exploratory Factor Analysis, demonstrated that the impact of parks and recreation positively influences perceptions of quality of life for California residents. To understand the relationships between personal benefit of parks and recreation and the five PRQOL domains, a multivariate general linear model was constructed. This model indicated that perceived personal benefit resulting from parks and recreation was positively related to all five PRQOL domains. Ultimately, positive perceptions of PRQOL by community residents could influence policy development, funding, and access to parks and recreation resources, programs, and services.


Quality of life; parks and recreation; healthy communities; healthy lifestyles; benefits

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