Publication Date



Background Neighbourhood environments influence older adults’ health and health-enhancing behaviours, such as physical activity, eating a healthy diet and socialising. However, little is known about the effects of the neighbourhood environment on the health of older immigrants, the number of which is rapidly increasing in developed countries. Using Nominal Group Technique (NGT) sessions, this study of older Chinese immigrants to urban Melbourne, Australia, examined built and social environmental facilitators of and barriers to regular engagement in physical activity, eating a healthy diet and regular contact with other people. Methods Participants were recruited from four types of neighbourhoods stratified by walkability and proportion of Chinese dwellers. Twelve NGTs, four specific to each of physical activity, healthy diet and social contacts were conducted in Mandarin or Cantonese (91 participants). NGT responses from groups addressing the same questions were aggregated, similar items were combined, and scores combined across groups. Inductive thematic analysis was used to categorise answers into higher-order themes of factors associated with each behaviour. Results For physical activity, 29 facilitators and 28 barriers were generated with the highest ranked facilitator and barrier being “proximity to destinations” and “poor/inadequate public transport”, respectively. For healthy diet, 25 facilitators and 25 barriers were generated, the highest ranked facilitator and barrier were “high food safety standards/regulations” and “lack of family/household members’ social support for a healthy diet”. The social contacts NGTs generated 23 facilitators and 22 barriers, with the highest ranked facilitator and barrier being “proximity to destinations and activities” and “poor public transport”, respectively. Discussion Independent living arrangements and the accessibility of destinations of daily living (e.g., bilingual health services, libraries, places of worship and grocery stores / supermarkets), recreational facilities, affordable public transport, and community centres and activities for Chinese people are key elements for promoting regular engagement in physical activity, healthy eating and socialising in older Chinese immigrants. Governments should plan for the provision of this basic infrastructure of community facilities for older immigrants.


Mary MacKillop Institute for Health Research

Document Type

Open Access Journal Article

Access Rights

Open Access

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.