MacArthur SES & Health Network
MacArthur SES & Health Network


printable version

Measuring Aspects of the Environment Related to Physical Activity

The review of instruments was completed and the chapter written by Melissa Smiley and Ana Diez Roux. The chapter was last revised in September, 2004.

Chapter Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Key Elements in the Table
  3. General Comments and Areas for Further Research

Introduction

The attached table summarizes recent articles that measure aspects of the physical environment that could impact physical activity and, by extension, cardiovascular disease risk. The relationship between environmental factors and health outcomes remains a subject of research and debate. The development and validation of environmental attributes remains a key need in the field.

The articles contained in this table employed a wide range of measurement strategies to collect subjective and objective data about neighborhood and community environments. This table does not include research that relies solely on proxy environmental measures, such as housing age, census data and other socio-economic data sources. While proxy measures are useful, especially when looking at larger regional issues, the articles listed here were selected because of their demonstrated on-the-ground measurement techniques.

The overall goal of this table is to summarize the ways in which environmental risk factors for cardiovascular disease have been measured. The articles, however, generally do not specifically address cardiovascular disease. The relationship between the measurement strategies employed in these manuscripts and cardiovascular disease risk is more distal and hypothetical. Nonetheless, the constructs of interest and their linkages remain central to this line of inquiry. Though most of the studies examine environmental impact on leisure-time physical activity, some also address general non-motorized or active transportation, like cycling and walking. In other words, the presence of sidewalks might make you more likely to take a leisurely stroll after dinner, but they also might make you more likely to walk to the market to pick up something for dinner. However, the table does not include any discussion of significant results from the articles. Instead, this table is focused exclusively on identifying and highlighting measurement techniques, and does not summarize the relationship of the measures to physical activity outcomes.

back to top

Key Elements in the Table

The following sections briefly describe the contents of each table column and the analysis criteria and definitions employed in their creation.

Sources

This table presents research published since the year 2000. While this cut-off point is somewhat arbitrary and does eliminate some important earlier work, we found that many recent publications directly build on these older publications. In order to present a manageable and useful table, we began with the year 2000.

Sources are arranged alphabetically by year, beginning with 2004. Multiple sources grouped in one table entry utilized substantially similar or identical data. In several instances, the publications represent different presentations of the same data set and therefore one means of collecting neighborhood data.

This is not an exhaustive collection of articles. We consulted various databases, including PubMed, FirstSearch, the Avery Index to Architectural Periodicals, and Family and Society Studies Worldwide. We also relied heavily on citations in published articles both on and off this list. Once the literature review process began to yield largely the same citations, we were satisfied that our attempts to capture the majority of current work in this field were satisfactory.

Constructs

We established a simple shorthand lexicon of terms to represent the four main constructs conveyed in the references. Readers are invited to scan the table using these terms to find measurements of interest. The four constructs and their definitions are provided below.

  • Prevalence of Behavior - Measures of real or perceived physical activity-related behavior by members of the community.
  • Recreational Facilities - Measures of facilities that are either used or intended to be used for recreation, including green/park/open space, athletic facilities, and recreation centers. Data elements may include the number of available facilities, ease of accessing facilities, and/or their upkeep.
  • Safety - Measures of real or perceived safety within in the community as it relates to physical activity. This includes both crime- and traffic-related threats.
  • Built Environment - Measures of any aspect of the built environment that affects the ease of conducting physical activity in the community. This includes measures of sidewalk presence and maintenance, development density, connectivity of streets, convenience and mix of likely destinations, aesthetics, and street scale (pedestrian or car-oriented).

back to top

Strategies

The three main data collection strategies identified from the literature are summarized below:

  • GIS - Noted if Geographic Information Systems (GIS), a mapping and database software product, was used to examine environmental and development trends. GIS is noted if it was used as an independent data collection tool and/or to pool data from various sources to produce combined variables. If GIS-produced maps were just used to guide observers, such use is not noted here.
  • Observation - Noted if observation, usually by trained and independent observers, was used to collect objective data. If observers used GIS maps to guide their travels, only observation is noted.
  • Survey - Noted if residents were surveyed (by phone, mail, or in-person) about their environment. Unless noted, cross-sectional (one-time) survey data were collected. Survey methodology was by far the most common strategy employed.

Measurement

This column contains is a short summary of the actual steps taken to measure aspects of the environment. For studies that employed GIS and observation strategies, a brief explanation is given of how the researchers framed the problem and gathered the data. For studies involving surveys, this column often conveys the number and types of survey items. Actual survey wording is included if available and brief. If wording was available but lengthy, it is noted and readers can refer back to the source.

The descriptions in this column also indicate the depth and complexity of exploration. Some articles merely mention a few neighborhood/community questions that appeared in a much larger survey, while others describe a project that specifically and solely intended to measure the environment.

Validity/Reliability

Validity (the extent to which a measure accurately quantifies the "true" construct) and/or reliability (the extent to which an instrument will produce the same result if applied two or more times) are noted with a short description if assessed in the study. Wherever possible, coefficients and correlations are included. No mention is made in the table if researchers merely noted that they used scales previously tested or chose items with "face validity."

back to top

General Comments and Areas for Further Research

To date, research and data collection efforts aimed at understanding neighborhoods, communities, and the physical environment is far more likely to utilize a survey of residents than either train and deploy observers or engage GIS technicians. One strength of survey methodology is that residents may know their neighborhoods and the constructs of interest far more intimately than outside researchers. One limitation of resident surveys is the reliance on individual perceptions (e.g., safety or recreational facility access). While community members are uniquely positioned to comment on the physical environment as they know it, researchers may want to employ a comprehensive, multidimensional approach to measurement that also includes more objective data collection strategies. While perhaps more expensive and time-consuming, researchers should consider this complementary approach to measurement and data collection.

Very few of the articles cited established the validity and reliability of the instruments used. While the absence of any widely held "gold standard" to validate the constructs and a reliance on cross-sectional design surely played a part, researchers and journal editors should both increase their expectations in this area.

GIS represents a relatively new tool with rapidly expanding capabilities and uses. This tool is fairly easy to use and will continue to be employed more creatively in the future.

This table and the analysis criteria that led to its creation do little to resolve the apparent tension between public health professionals (who emphasize physical activity) and transportation professionals (who emphasize non-motorized mode choice). While research from both disciplines is included here, the emphasis is slightly skewed toward the public health perspective because it is often more open to utilizing a wide range of environmental measures to understand physical activity and its determinants. In contrast, transportation professionals often focus on large region-wide modeling of mode choice and, consequently, are less likely to measure constructs at the neighborhood level. Certainly, this review makes clear that both fields have a contribution to make and a greater synthesis of approaches is needed.

back to top


Sources Constructs Strategies Measurements Validity Reliability
Leslie, E., Saelens, B., Frank, L., Owen, N., Bauman, A., & Coffee, N. et al. (In press). Residents' perceptions of walkability attributes in objectively different neighbourhoods: A pilot study. Health & Place. Built environment GIS

Written survey
GIS data was used to identify one high walkability neighborhood and one low walkability neighborhood based on connectivity of streets, density of dwellings, and land-use mix. Residents were surveyed used a modified version of NEWS (see Saelens 2003) which assessed density, and proximity to retail and facilities. Scales of agreement ranged from 1 to 4. None Surveys were mailed out twice for test-retest reliability. All subscales had ICCs > 0.61 and a majority of the individual item ICCs were > 0.60.
Cho, Y., Park, G., & Echevarria-Cruz, S. (In press). Perceived neighborhood characteristics and the health of adult Koreans. Social Science & Medicine. Safety In-person survey Satisfaction with neighborhood and satisfaction with safety were assessed in the context of the Quality of Korean Life survey. None None
Duncan, M., & Mummery, K. (In press). Psychosocial and environmental factors associated with physical activity among city dwellers in regional Queensland. Preventive Medicine. Recreational facilities

Safety

Built environment
GIS

Telephone survey
15 items in a large survey assessed perceived environment including safety, aesthetics, and opportunity for physical activity on a 5-point Likert scale. Items are listed in an appendix.

These data were compared to objective data already compiled into a GIS database including distances to parks and retail, numbers of registered dogs and sufficiently active people within a given radius of respondent homes, and area of roadway with sufficient streetlight coverage.
None None
Addy, C. L., Wilson, D. K., Kirtland, K. A., Ainsworth, B. E., Sharpe, P., & Kimsey, D. (2004). Associations of perceived social and physical environmental supports with physical activity and walking behavior. American Journal of Public Health, 94(3), 440-443.

Wilson, D. K., Kirtland, K. A., Ainsworth, B. E., & Addy, C. L. (2004). Socioeconomic status and perceptions of access and safety for physical activity. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 28(1), 20-28.
Prevalence of behavior

Recreational facilities

Safety

Built environment
GIS

Telephone survey
Survey included 13 neighborhood- and 13 community-level questions. Neighborhood was defined by a 0.5 mile radius or 10 minute walk from home. Community was defined by a 10 mile radius or 20 minute drive.

Questions included a Y/N item about sidewalks, a rating of how pleasant the neighborhood is (very pleasant to not at all pleasant), a rating of safety from crime (extremely safe to not at all safe), and perception of neighbors physical activity (very physically active to not at all physically active). Kirtland et al. (2003) lists all of the questions.
Validity examined by comparing survey responses to maps produced from a GIS database of local information. Kappa statistics showed fair to low agreement. Neighborhood items ranged from -0.02-0.37 and community items ranged from -0.07-0.25. Test-retest reliabilities ranged from .42 to .74 for neighborhood items and .28-.56 for community items.
Kirtland, K. A., Porter, D. E., Addy, C. L., Neet, M. J., Williams, J. E., & Sharpe, P. A. et al. (2003). Environmental measures of physical activity supports: Perception versus reality. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 24(4), 323-331.          
Brownson, R. C., Chang, J. J., Eyler, A. A., Ainsworth, B. E., Kirtland, K. A., & Saelens, B. E. et al. (2004). Measuring the environment for friendliness toward physical activity: A comparison of the reliability of three questionnaires. American Journal of Public Health, 94(3), 473-483. Prevalence of behavior

Recreational facilities

Safety

Built environment
Telephone survey Researchers measured the reliability of three existing instruments:

San Diego Instrument - 98 items determine respondent perception of built environment features including facilities, connectivity, proximity of stores, and safety.

South Carolina Instrument - 61 items about physical and social environment, including safety, proximity of destinations, and neighborhood and facility condition and pleasantness.

St. Louis Instrument - 104 items including assessment of physical activity behavior, local walking and cycling infrastructure, barriers to walking, and social support.
None Reliability coefficients are discussed and calculated for many different groups of respondents. Overall, built environment items were more reliable than social environment items.

Whole scales showed substantial (ICC 0.6-0.8) agreement.
Frank, L. D., Andresen, M. A., & Schmid, T. L. (2004). Obesity relationships with community design, physical activity, and time spent in cars. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 27(2), 87-96. Built environment GIS

Survey
Tax assessor, street network, and census data were combined with aerial photography into a GIS database. Researchers then measured connectivity of roads by calculating the number of intersections within a radius with more than three legs. They also used a detailed formula to measure mix of land use and residential density. These data were compared to physical activity data obtained by survey. None None
Humpel, N., Owen, N., Leslie, E., Marshall, A. L., Bauman, A. E., & Sallis, J. F. (2004). Associations of location and perceived environmental attributed with walking in neighborhoods. American Journal of Health Promotion, 18,(3), 239-242. Built environment Telephone survey Respondents rated aspects of their neighborhood on a 1-10 scale specific to each item. Two items addressed aesthetics (friendliness and scenery); three addressed convenience (distance, accessibility, overall convenience); two addressed accessibility (rating distance); and one addressed traffic. None None
Humpel, N., Marshall, A. L., Leslile, E., Bauman, A., & Owen, N. (2004). Changes in neighborhood walking are related to changes in perceptions of environmental attributes. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 27(1), 60-67. Built environment Telephone survey Researchers investigated changes in environmental perception associated with changes due to a physical activity intervention.

Eight neighborhood environment items assessed influences on walking behavior, including aesthetics, convenience, access, and traffic. Items appeared on a uniform 10-point scale from not at all favorable to very favorable.
None Test-retest reliability found ICCs ranging from 0.73-0.93.
Humpel, N., Owen, N., Iverson, D., Leslie, E., & Bauman, A. (2004). Perceived environmental attributes, residential location, and walking for particular purposes. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 26(2), 119-125. Safety

Built environment
Written survey 24 items were presented along a 10-point continuum with the most positive (e.g., There are a lot of trees) and most negative (e.g., There are no trees) as the two anchors. All items are included in an appendix. None None
Pasaogullari, N., & Doratli, N. (2004). Measuring accessibility and utilization of public spaces in Famagusta. Cities, 21(3), 225-232. Recreational facilities

Built environment
Written survey 34 items assessed accessibility and utilization of public spaces within a rapidly growing urban setting. No specific item wording is included, but the survey did include questions about whether public space can be seen from respondent homes, length of travel time, and details about the street network. None None
Rodriguez, D. A., & Joo, J. (2004). The relationship between non-motorized mode choice and the local physical environment. Transportation Research Part D, 9, 151-173. Built environment GIS As part of a project on commuter mode choice, researchers reviewed aerial digital photography to determine the presence of walking and cycling paths, the availability of sidewalks, and topography. None None
Sharpe, P. A., Granner, M. L., Hutto, B., & Ainsworth, B. E. (2004). Association of environmental factors to meeting physical activity recommendations in two South Carolina communities. American Journal of Health Promotion, 18(3), 251-257. Recreational facilities

Safety

Built environment
Telephone survey Respondents were asked about frequency of recreational facility use and knowledge of local facilities, including cycling trails, parks, and sidewalks. Respondents also indicated their perception of safety, sidewalk conditions, and the quality of street lighting. None None
Wendel-Vos, G. C., Schuit, A. J., De Niet, R., Boshuizen, H. C., Saris, Wim H. M., & Kromhout, D. (2004). Factors of the physical environment associated with walking and bicycling. Medicine and Science in Sports and Exercise, 36(4), 725-730. Recreational facilities GIS Researchers collected data from existing GIS databases on recreational or park space within a given distance of respondents' homes and compared these findings to self-reported walking and cycling. None None
Catlin, T. K., Simoes, E. J., & Brownson, R. C. (2003). Environmental and policy factors associated with overweight among adults in Missouri. American Journal of Health Promotion, 17(4), 249-258. Built environment Telephone survey The 92-item Missouri Cardiovascular Disease survey included 6 items about presence of sidewalks, shoulders, trails, and parks. None None
Estabrooks, P. A., Lee, R. E., & Gyurcsik, N. C. (2003). Resources for physical activity participation: Does availability and accessibility differ by neighborhood socioeconomic status? Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 25(2), 100-104. Recreational facilities GIS Researchers created a GIS database of location and use of city recreational facilities by searching the web, phone books, and contacting local schools. City government provided additional information, including whether use of the facility is free. None None
Evenson, K. R., Eyler, A. A., Wilcox, S., Thompson, J. L., & Burke, J. E. (2003). Test-retest reliability of a questionnaire of physical activity and its correlates among women from diverse racial and ethnic groups. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 25(3Si), 15-22.

Eyler, A. A., Matson-Koffman, D., Young, D. R., Wilcox, S., Wilbur, J., & Thompson, J. L. et al. (2003). Quantitative study of correlates of physical activity in women from diverse racial/ethnic groups. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 25(3Si), 5-14.
Safety

Built environment
In-person survey

Telephone survey
Physical environment factors were measured as part of a multi-site project identifying factors influencing physical activity among low-income and minority women.

Survey included questions on traffic volume, presence and condition of sidewalks, safety, and unattended dogs. Entire questions reproduced in the appendix.
None Test-retest reliability found ICCs ranging from 0.64-0.91.
Giles-Corti, B., & Donovan, R. J. (2003). Relative influences of individual, social environmental and physical environmental correlates of walking. American Journal of Public Health, 93(9), 1583-1589.

Giles-Corti, B., & Donovan, R. J. (2002). The relative influence of individual, social and physical environment determinants of physical activity. Social Science and Medicine, 54, 1793-1812.

Giles-Corti, B., Macintyre, S., Clarkson, J. P., Pikora, T., & Donovan, R. J. (2003). Environmental and lifestyle factors associated with overweight and obesity in Perth, Australia. American Journal of Health Promotion, 18(1), 93-102.
Recreational facilities

Built environment
GIS

Observation

In-person survey
Researchers compared self-reported physical activity to objective measures of neighborhood characteristics and accessibility of recreational facilities.

After conducting an in-person physical activity survey, surveyors also assessed the functionality and appeal of the street in front of the respondent's home, including the presence of sidewalks and street type.

GIS analysis used street network data to determine the distance between homes and individual recreation facilities. Attractiveness, use of and distance to each facility were combined to rate accessibility.
None None
Huston, S. L., Evenson, K. R., Bors, P., & Gizlice, Z. (2003). Neighborhood environment, access to place for activity, and leisure-time physical activity in a diverse North Carolina population. American Journal of Health Promotion, 18(1), 58-69. Recreational facilities

Built environment
Telephone survey As part of a larger survey, respondents were asked whether their neighborhood had sidewalks, heavy traffic, streetlights, unattended dogs, and trails.

One item assessed safety by asking "How safe from crime would you consider your neighborhood to be?" Response options ranged from extremely safe to not at all safe. One item assessed whether respondents had access to a recreational facility and whether it was indoor or outdoor.
None None
King, W. C., Brach, J. S., Belle, S., Killingsworth, R., Fenton, M., & Kriska, A. M. (2003). The relationship between convenience of destinations and walking levels in older women. American Journal of Health Promotion, 18(1), 74-82. Built environment Telephone survey Data were collected in 1999 as part of a follow-up assessment of an early 1980s walking intervention. Convenience of walking in the neighborhood was assessed by asking participants how much time it took to walk from home to 13 destinations (e.g., trail, bus stop, café, church, etc.) and the frequency of walking there. One question allowed respondents to list an additional destination not among the 13.

Participants rated the overall quality of neighborhood surroundings for walking as poor, fair, good, or excellent.
None None
Brownson, R. C., Baker, E. A., Housemann, R. A., Brennan, L. K., & Bacak, S. J. (2001). Environmental and policy determinants of physical activity in the United States. American Journal of Public Health, 91(12), 1995-2003.

Parks, S. E., Housemann, R. A., & Brownson, R. C. (2003). Differential correlates of physical activity in urban and rural adults of various socioeconomic backgrounds in the United States. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 57, 29-35.
Recreational facilities

Safety

Built environment
Telephone survey Questions came from the BRFSS, the National Health Interview Survey, and other surveys. Data analyses compared urban, rural, and suburban responses.

Physical environment questions identified if respondents were physically active in a variety of places and whether they had access to facilities.

Respondents indicated whether their neighborhood had sidewalks, hills and other features with Y/N responses.
None None
De Bourdeaudhuij, I., Sallis, J. F., & Saelens, B. E. (2003). Environmental correlates of physical activity in a sample of Belgian adults. American Journal of Health Promotion, 18(1), 83-92.

Saelens, B. E., Sallis, J. F., Black, J. B., & Chen, D. (2003). Neighborhood-based differences in physical activity: An environment scale evaluation. American Journal of Public Health, 93(9), 1552-1558.
Recreational facilities

Safety

Built environment
Written survey Researchers surveyed residents of one high-walkability and one low-walkability neighborhood using the Neighborhood Environmental Walkability Scale (NEWS). Another group of researchers modified this exact survey for use with a Belgian sample.

Residential density and land-use was assessed by questions about the frequency of residence type and walking distance from home to various destinations. Street connectivity, recreational facilities, aesthetics, and traffic and crime safety items were scaled from 1 (strongly disagree) to 4 (strongly agree).
De Bourdeauduij assessed validity by comparing survey responses with objective raters and crime data. Validity coefficients ranged from 0.21-0.91. Saelens found intraclass correlations for the subscales to be greater than 0.58 and a majority were above 0.75.

De Bourdeauduij assessed test-retest reliability and found intraclass correlations between 0.40-0.97.
Powell, K. E., Martin, L. M., & Chowdhury, P. P. (2003). Places to walk: Convenience and regular physical activity. American Journal of Public Health, 93(9), 1519-1521. Recreational facilities

Safety
Telephone survey Researchers added questions about safe and convenient places to walk to the Georgia Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System.

Respondents answered all questions, regardless of whether they used the facilities.

Respondents indicated the type of place (public park, school track, fitness center, trail, mall, other, neighborhood sidewalks, home treadmill), how long it takes to get there, and what mode they would use.
None None
Troped, P. J., Saunders, R. P., Pate, R. R., Reininger, B., & Addy, C. L. (2003). Correlates of recreational and transportation physical activity among adults in a New England community. Preventive Medicine, 37, 304-310.

Troped, P. J., Saunders, R. P., Pate, R. R., Reininger, B., Ureda, J. R., & Thompson, S. J. (2001). Associations between self-reported and objective physical environmental factors and use of a community rail-trail. Preventive Medicine, 32, 191-200.
Recreational facilities

Built environment
GIS

Written survey
Cross-sectional studies combining self-report survey data and objective GIS data to create new variables to compare to trail use statistics.

Survey data included Y/N questions on presence of sidewalks, hills, and crime. Perceived safety was measured on a five-point Likert scale. Respondents also characterized their neighborhood as residential, mixed, or commercial.

Objective GIS measures included distance by road from respondent home to trail access point.
None None
Witten, K., Exeter, D., & Field, A. (2003). The quality of urban environments: Mapping variation in access to community resources. Urban Studies, 40(1), 161-177. Recreational facilities GIS Researchers utilized local data to create an index of services, facilities, and amenities in neighborhoods called the Community Resources Accessibility Index (CRAI). It is specific to the needs of child caregivers and was created with their input. It differentiates between local and regional resources and values choice between a variety of facilities. None None
Carnegie, M. A., Bauman, A., Marshall, A. L., Mohsin, M., Westley-Wise, V., & Booth, M. L. (2002). Perceptions of the physical environment, state of change for physical activity, and walking among Australian adults. Research Quarterly for Exercise and Sport, 73(2), 146-155. Safety

Built environment
Telephone survey Survey included items on safety; friendliness and pleasantness of the area; whether shops, parks, or paths were nearby; traffic levels, and presence of dogs. Responses were recorded on a five-point Likert scale ranging from strongly agree to strongly disagree. None None
Craig, C. L., Brownson, R. C., Cragg, S. E., & Dunn, A. L. (2002). Exploring the effect of the environment on physical activity: A study examining walking to work. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 23(2S), 36-43. Safety

Built environment
Observation Trained observers rated neighborhood characteristics on 10-point Likert Scales. All items and scales are included in the paper.

Items included number and variety of destinations, pedestrian inclusiveness, social dynamics, walking routes and system, meeting pedestrian needs, transportations system, complexity and potential for overload of stimulus (visual and auditory), visual interest and aesthetics, time and effort, traffic threats, obstacles, safety from and potential of crime.
None A small sub-study yielded inter-rater correlations of 0.9-1.0.
Lund, H. (2002). Pedestrian environments and sense of community. Journal of Planning Education and Research, 21, 301-312. Prevalence of behavior

Safety
Written survey Researchers utilized a previously-developed 11-item scale to collect perception of walking information from residents of two neighborhoods with different walking environments.

Respondents indicated their perceptions on a five-point Likert scale (strongly disagree to strongly agree). Items address comfort, safety, and appeal of walking in the neighborhood. All items are listed.
None None
Pikora, T. J., Bull, F. C. L., Jamrozik, K., Dnuiman, M., Giles-Corti, B., & Donovan, R. J. (2002). Developing a reliable audit instrument to measure the physical environment for physical activity. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 23(3), 187-194. Recreational facilities

Safety

Built environment
Observation Systematic Pedestrian and Cycling Environmental Scan Instrument (SPACES) allows trained observers to systematically collect data on street segments.

Observers rated paths, street type and width, traffic volume and speed, connectivity, safety, aesthetics (built and natural), and destinations (commercial and recreational). All items are included in the paper.
None Both intra- and inter-rater reliability were generally high and discussed at length in the article
Takano, T., Nakamura, K., & Watanabe, M. (2002). Urban residential environments and senior citizens' longevity in megacity areas: The importance of walkable green spaces. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 56(913), 918. Built environment Observation The survey is part of a longitudinal cohort study of Japanese senior citizens. It includes questions regarding residential walking space, noise, crime level, sunlight hours, presence of gardens and bus stops, communication with neighbors and preference to remain in the community. None None
Ball, K., Bauman, A., Leslie, E., & Owen, N. (2001). Perceived environmental aesthetics and convenience and company are associated with walking for exercise among Australian adults. Preventive Medicine, 33, 434-440. Built environment Telephone survey Survey included 13 items assessing the environment on a 5-point Likert scale from strongly agree to strongly disagree. Items included aesthetics, convenience, and presence of other people/pets to walk with. None None
Randall, T. A., & Baetz, B. W. (2001). Evaluating pedestrian connectivity for suburban sustainability. Journal of Urban Planning and Development, 127(1), 1-15. Built environment GIS The paper describes two ways to use customized GIS software to measure pedestrian connectivity, a common way of quantifying the ease of walking around the neighborhood.

One way involves measuring the distance pedestrians' travel to certain places (400m is generally the maximum distance). Another divide this distance by the straight-line distance, creating a ratio of how inconvenient the street network is for pedestrians.
None None
Weich, S., Burton, E., Blanchard, M., Prince, M., Sproston, K., & Erens, B. (2001). Measuring the built environment: Validity of a site survey instrument for use in urban settings. Health & Place, 7, 283-292. Built environment Observation Researchers compiled a built environment site survey checklist (BESSC) and rated two neighborhoods. Items included housing type, facility accessibility, safety and security, and land use. Items are listed in an appendix. None Inter-rater reliability testing revealed a majority of the items (15 of 25) had kappa coefficients > 0.5.
Booth, M. L., Owen, N., Bauman, A., Clavisi, O., & Leslie, E. (2000). Social-cognitive and perceived environment influences associated with physical activity in older Australians. Preventive Medicine, 31, 15-22. Prevalence of behavior

Recreational facilities

Safety
Face-to-face survey Respondents were asked Y/N questions about the difficulty and safety of walking, access to recreational facilities, and frequency of physical activity in the neighborhood. None None
Brownson, R. C., Housemann, R. A., Brown, D. R., Jackson-Thompson, J., King, A. C., & Malone, B. R. et al. (2000). Promoting physical activity in rural communities: Walking trail access, use and effects. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 18(3), 235-241. Recreational facilities

Safety
Telephone survey Respondents were asked about local access to walking trails, use of trails, and perceptions of safety while using trails. None None
King, A. C., Castro, C., Wilcox, S., Eyler, A. A., Sallis, J. F., & Brownson, R. C. (2000). Personal and environmental factors associated with physical inactivity among different racial-ethnic groups of U.S. middle-aged and older-aged women. Health Psychology, 19(4), 354-364.

Wilcox, S., Castro, C., King, A. C., Housemann, R., & Brownson, R. C. (2000). Determinants of leisure time physical activity in rural compared with urban older and ethnically diverse women in the United States. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, 54, 667-672.
Prevalence of behavior

Recreational facilities

Safety

Built environment
Telephone survey Survey based on a modified version of the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System.

Respondents rated presence of frequently observing others exercising, access to facilities (pools, trails, recreation centers), presence of hills, streetlights, unattended dogs, and crime and traffic levels.
None None


back to top

 

MACSES
UCSF Home About UCSF Search UCSF UCSF Medical Center