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Longitudinal study

Mental health and wellbeing of relocated elderly farmers 

Later life, new living in suburbs 

Many older people in rural areas have lived in their homes most of their lives. They know the neighbours, shops, and sitting areas. But instead of enjoying the familiarity and security of their surroundings, some are being uprooted in their twilight years to make way for new developments, and relocated to suburbs of Chinese cities. 

Using a natural experiment in Suzhou, China, we study the physical and mental effects on farmers forced to move due to development that changes rural environments to new towns, measuring the health impacts of alternative designs. Baseline surveys have been administered to more than 2,600 elders, including a control group still living in their village, and health information was collected. The first part of the study was completed in November 2019, follow-ups were conducted in 2020 and 2021, and yielded rather depressing preliminary results: relocated patients had statistically higher hypertension levels and were more likely to be overweight. 

Our project aims to improve the livings of the relocated residents by looking at the built environmental features for their mental, physical and social outcomes. For example, what are the effects of planting greenery outside their buildings, installing facilities for them to exercise, sit and socialise, or placing roads away from these public places? 

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Home environment before relocation

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New livings in the suburbs after relocation

Funded by

Elderly-friendly environment making during rapid urbanization: A longitudinal study of the impact of the built environment on health (NSFC 51808451, 300,000RMB, 2018.09-2021.12)

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