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Availability of Public Toilets in Parks and Recreational Sites in Selected US Cities

Park, Young Shin; Bliss, Donna Z.

Journal of Wound Ostomy & Continence Nursing: May/June 2019 - Volume 46 - Issue 3 - p 235–239
doi: 10.1097/WON.0000000000000522
Continence Care
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PURPOSE: The principal aim of this study was to map and describe the availability of parkland public toilets in major US cities per population and area.

DESIGN: Observational and descriptive.

SUBJECTS AND SETTING: Data were collected from the following cities: Austin, Texas; Minneapolis-St Paul (MSP), Minnesota; Nashville, Tennessee; New York City (NYC), New York; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; San Francisco, California (SFC); Seattle, Washington; and Tampa, Florida. These cities are located throughout the United States.

METHODS: Data from the US Census and cities' parks/recreation departments about publicly owned and operated permanent toilet facilities were analyzed and then mapped using geographic information systems. Toilet density by population and residential area (mi2) was calculated, and toilet distribution was visualized.

RESULTS: When calculated per 100,000 residents, MSP had the most parkland public toilets with 24; Tampa, Seattle, and Philadelphia had 17 to 22; and Nashville, NYC, and SFC had the fewest, around 7 toilets. Parkland public toilet density per residential area was highest in NYC and Philadelphia (>2/mi2), followed by MSP, Seattle, and SFC (1/mi2), then Tampa, Austin, and Nashville (<1/mi2). The proportion of Census tracts containing parkland public toilets was more than 0.4 in MSP, Seattle, Tampa, and Philadelphia, more than 0.20 in Nashville and Austin, and less than 0.20 in the other cities. Toilet mapping showed fairly even distribution across Census tracts in MSP, Seattle, Tampa, and Philadelphia.

CONCLUSIONS: Availability of parkland public toilets was highest in MSP and lowest in SFC. Findings inform WOC nurses for counseling incontinent patients about self-management strategies. Urban planning that provides an adequate number and distribution of parkland public toilets may improve quality of life.

Young Shin Park, MPH, RN, University of Minnesota School of Nursing, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Donna Z. Bliss, PhD, RN, FGSA, FAAN, University of Minnesota School of Nursing, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Correspondence: Young Shin Park, MPH, RN, University of Minnesota School of Nursing, 5-140 Weaver Densford Hall, 308 Harvard St SE, Minneapolis, MN 55455 (park1622@umn.edu).

Funding for this study was from internal funds from the University of Minnesota School of Nursing.

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

© 2019 by the Wound, Ostomy and Continence Nurses Society.