The role of urban environments in promoting active and healthy aging: a systematic scoping review of citizen science approaches

Grace Wood, Jessica Pykett, Paulina Daw, Sandra Agyapong-Badu, Ann Banchoff, Abby C. King, Afroditi Stathi

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Promoting active and healthy aging in urban spaces requires environments with diverse, age-friendly characteristics. This scoping review investigated the associations between urban characteristics and active and healthy aging as identified by citizen science (CS) and other participatory approaches. Using a systematic scoping review procedure, 23 articles employing a CS or participatory approach (participant age range: 54–98 years) were reviewed. An inductive and deductive thematic analysis was completed to (a) identify local urban barriers and facilitators and (b) map them against the World Health Organization (WHO) Checklist of Essential Features of Age-Friendly Cities. A new Citizen Science Appraisal Tool (CSAT) was developed to evaluate the quality of CS and other participatory approaches included in the reviewed articles. A range of interconnected urban barriers and facilitators was generated by residents across the personal (e.g. perceived safety), environmental (e.g. unmaintained infrastructure), socio-cultural (e.g. cross-cultural activities), economic (e.g. affordable housing) and political (e.g. governmental support to migrant communities) domains. Mapping the barriers and facilitators to the WHO age-friendly checklist underscored the checklist’s relevance and elucidated the need to explore barriers for migrant and cross-cultural communities and neighborhood development and alterations. The CSAT demonstrated strengths related to active engagement of residents and study outcomes leading to real-world implications. To advance the potential of CS to enrich our understanding of age-friendly environments, employing co-production to enhance relevance and sustainability of outcomes is an important strategy. Overall, employing CS highlighted the value of systematically capturing the experiences of older adults within studies aimed at promoting active and healthy aging.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)427–456
Number of pages30
JournalJournal of Urban Health
Issue number3
Early online date19 May 2022
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors would like to thank Dr. Benjamin Chrisinger for his support and guidance in developing the Citizen Science Appraisal Tool. This study is funded by the University of Birmingham as part of a PhD studentship.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s).


  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cities
  • Citizen Science
  • Healthy Aging
  • Housing
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Residence Characteristics


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