Journal of Urban Health

, Volume 96, Issue 2, pp 289–299 | Cite as

Understanding Embodiment in Place-Health Research: Approaches, Limitations, and Opportunities

  • Ryan PettewayEmail author
  • Mahasin Mujahid
  • Amani Allen


Research on how place affects health continues to grow. Within the place-health research field, there is increasing focus on how place becomes embodied—i.e., how place-based social and environmental experiences and exposures “get under our skin” to affect physiological functioning and health. While much has been learned, currently favored place-embodiment research approaches present limitations that inhibit continued gains in understanding. This article presents a brief summary of place-health literature related to place-embodiment, highlighting common approaches. Core limitations are then discussed with an eye towards improving research going forward, highlighting mixed-method, spatially dynamic, and participatory intergenerational approaches as promising considerations.


Neighborhoods and health Place and health Embodiment Biometrics Allostatic load Intergenerational research Qualitative methods Participatory research 



The authors would like to thank Dr. Rachel Morello‐Frosch for her contributions in shaping early versions of this manuscript and guiding its initial development.


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© The New York Academy of Medicine 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Oregon Health & Science University-Portland State University School of Public HealthPortlandUSA
  2. 2.University of California, Berkeley School of Public HealthBerkeleyUSA

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