Examining the Relationship Between Community Mobility and Participation Using GPS and Self-Report Data.

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Social Science & Medicine (1982)

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Higher levels of community mobility have been shown to be associated with better physical health, mental health, and quality of life. The ability to move about one's community is also expected to facilitate community participation, which is an aspect of health functioning. This study uses Global Positioning Systems (GPS) technology to track various dimensions of community mobility, such as destinations, time outside the home, and distance traveled, and examine the relationship between these variables and community participation in a sample of individuals with serious mental illnesses (SMI). This population was selected because they are known to have diminished health functioning in terms of their community participation, and the goal is to explore the extent to which mobility limitations may account for this. A total of 103 individuals with serious mental illnesses were recruited from mental health agencies and consented to having their mobility tracked using GPS for 13 days and answering questions about their community-based activities. Greater amount of participation was associated with having more destinations and spending more time out of the house, but not with traveling larger distances and having a greater activity space. None of the mobility variables were related to the number of important participation areas or sufficiency of participation. The findings support the hypothesis that greater mobility is related to more participation, although satisfaction with the degree to which one participates does not appear to be impacted, suggesting that other factors need to be accounted for. Health policymakers and providers should pay attention to community mobility as a factor that affects health outcomes such as participation, in individuals with serious mental illnesses, and other populations. In particular, attending to access to personal transport, public transportation, and other mobility options appears to be important, as well as interventions aimed at encouraging greater community mobility.


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