Subtypes of Park Use and Self-Reported Psychological Benefits Among Older Adults: A Multilevel Latent Class Analysis Approach.
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Healthy aging is a global health priority. Urban parks and green space have been demonstrated to provide mental health benefits to older adults. Despite growing interest in prescribing nature and park visits by physicians, we do not know what type of park visit is most effective for the psychological benefits. This lack of knowledge prevents planners and designers from making informed decisions to promote mental health. We collected field data from 200 visitors from 15 different parks in Shanghai, China. The participants completed pre-visit and post-visit surveys, wearing a GPS and a pedometer while visiting the park. A multilevel latent class analysis (LCA) yielded a three-class structure of park use patterns: the active park lingerer, the active walker, and the passive scanner. Paired-sample t-test and ANCOVA tests showed that affective states (i.e., anxiety, depression, relaxation, contention) were enhanced after park visits for all subtypes. However, the active park lingerer displayed significantly higher levels of relaxation and contention, compared to the active walker and the passive scanner. The findings offer insights into park design characteristics that could promote the mental health of older adults.