August 19, 2008

Investigating the Impacts of Environmental Health on Ageing: An Empirical Research Proposal Study of Western Sydney


1.0  Title

The working title of this research is initially drafted as – Investigating the Impacts of Environmental Health on Ageing: An Empirical Study of Western Sydney

2.0  Background of the Study

According to Jackson and Kochtitzky, the 21st century understanding of factors that promote health and factors which damage health has grown significantly. The diseases that the 21st century will experience are mostly chronic diseases which 'steal vitality and productivity and will consume time and money.' Nonetheless, these diseases can be moderated by how we design and build our human environment. As such, human behaviours will play a critical role in determining and influencing human health. People's health-related decision-making will be evident on the connection between environment's deterioration and the deterioration of the physical and mental health of the people living in that environment.

            Jackson and Kochtitzky also noted that when people mull over the factors that affect their health, the tendency is to focus on influences instead of traditional factors. Such aspect includes housing characteristics, land-use patterns, transportation choices and architectural or urban design decisions that contribute as potential health hazard for the young and the elderly most especially. Environmental barriers do not only impact the convenience or the quality of life for the elderly but are also critical health issues. As such, unhealthy experiences increasingly become common as people and states permit and encourage 'thoughtless development and unmanaged growth'.  

            The Australian government recognises the importance of environmental health in improving the quality of life of the elder population. As Andrews and Philips (2005) noted, making communities age-inclusive is vital for the purpose of promoting healthy ageing as the need for work, social and built environments that are age-friendly. The National Strategy for an Ageing Australian, fact, identifies housing and locational aspects of ageing and the nature and quality of the place as well as the dimensions of external environment that involves public spaces, transport, recreation and urban planning (p. 108).

            In July 2003, Western Sydney takes part on the issues surrounding ageing in Australia. Through a standing committee on ageing, various issues affecting the elder populace were deliberately taken into consideration. These include ways of encouraging participation of older workforce in the labour force, healthy ageing and what Western Sydney could learn from the experiences of China and Japan. Strategies of preventing social isolation of ageing people and ways of promoting research into ageing are also tackled.              

3.0  Statement of the Problem

The premise is that although the functional capability of the elderly had deteriorated, older people are more likely to sustain their independence in the existence of an age-friendly built environment. The problem that will be addressed on the study is the impacts of environmental health on the elderly people of Western Sydney. How the Western Sydney governance create and maintain an age-friendly built environment as well as the presence of environmental barriers will be also address. Examples of environmental barriers that impact the health of the aged are land use and the effects on air quality and respiratory health, built environment and physical activities, urban design including pedestrian and water quality. In lieu with this, the study will seek to answer the following specific questions.

1)     What are the environmental barriers in Western Sydney that hinders the promotion of healthy ageing? How do these environmental barriers affect the health of the older people?

2)     How does the local government promote healthy ageing? What are the different strategies in place?

3)     How does the government regulate the promotion of age-friendly communities? What are the different policies that support this endeavor?  

4.0  Objectives of the Study

The aim of the study is to explore the different environmental barriers that impact the health of the elder population and how the local government of Western Sydney addresses this problem. The following specific objective will be realised.

§         To analyse the different environmental barriers to the promotion of healthy ageing in Western Sydney

§         To determine how the local government respond to the dilemma of these environmental barriers

§         To evaluate how the local government regulate and promote healthy ageing in light of the environmental barriers 

5.0  Research Methodology

The study will explore the problem in an interpretivist view, using exploratory research strategy because it aims to know more about the phenomenon of environmental health and ageing and the interplay between them. Exploratory research will enable the study to look at the problem in both descriptive and exploratory manner. It will look into the problem by exploring the views of different sets of respondents, as well as by exploring different literatures related with the study.

The second method that will be employed is the case study since the focus of the research is Western Sydney. According to Robson (2002), a case study is a "strategy for doing research which involves an empirical investigation of a particular contemporary phenomenon within its real life context using multiple sources of evidence." The data collection methods employed may be various such as questionnaires, interviews, observation and documentary analysis.

6.0  References

Andrews, G. J. and Philips, D. R. (2005). Ageing and Place: Perspective, Policy, Practice. Routledge.


Jackson, R. J. and Kochtitzky, C. (n.d.). Creating a Healthy Environment: The Impact of the Built Environment on Public Health.


Robson, C. (2002> Real world research. (2nd edn). Oxford: Blackwell.


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