Date of Award

Spring 3-26-2019

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Public Health (MPH)


Public Health

First Advisor

Ruiyan Luo

Second Advisor

Dennis Reidy


The built environment has been associated with community health through numerous studies (Wilcox 2003). Past research into built environments effect on community crime has identified increased green spaces as having a protective effect on property and violent crime rates (Kuo 2001). Kuo and others examine how crime rates are either positively or negatively associated with specified built environment features. The goal of this study is to identify which business types and institutions demonstrate an increased risk or protective effect on community crime rates. It is hypothesized that business types and institutions associated with low social capital crime rates will have a positive correlation with crime rates and outdoor recreation centers/facilities have a protective effect on crime. The data collected includes 2016-2017 Rhode Island average crime rates for general crime, assault, sexual assault, robbery and burglary and 19 built environment characteristics within the 39 Rhode Island county police precincts. Partial least squares regression analysis was performed to model the effects of business types on general crime rates, assault rates, robbery rates, burglary rates, and sex crime rates. The analysis identified a greatest increasing effect on burglary rates with pawn shops and strip clubs, while outdoor recreation centers and fire stations demonstrated the greatest protective effects. An increasing effect on robbery rates was associated with worship centers and pawn shops, while outdoor recreation centers again demonstrated the largest protective effect. The largest increasing effect on sex crime rates was libraries and gun dealers. The predictors that were most positively and negatively associated with violent assault were pawn shop rates and pain treatment center rates, respectively. The study found that outdoor recreation facilities was the only predictor to consistently demonstrated significant protective effects against all 4 specific crime rate types observed. Further research investigating latent factors within Rhode Island communities is necessary.