Correspondence Between Perceived and Observed Measures of Neighborhood Environmental Supports for Physical Activity

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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Background:

Neighborhood environmental supports for physical activity are assessed via telephone surveys (perceived) and environmental audits (observed), but the correspondence between methods is not known.

Methods.

Surveys (N = 1068) and audits were conducted concurrently in four diverse urban settings to measure recreational facilities, land use, transportation environment, and aesthetics. Agreement was assessed with kappa (κ) statistics.

Results.

Kappa values ranged from –0.06 to 0.47 for the 28 item-pairs: 17 item-pairs were classified as poor agreement (κ ≤ 0.20), 10 as fair (κ = 0.21-0.40), and 1 as good (κ = 0.47). The highest agreement was observed for proximity to parks, trails, and various land-use destinations, presence of sidewalks, and measures of neighborhood maintenance and cleanliness.

Conclusions.

Methodological issues and/or the likelihood of capturing distinct aspects of the environment may explain the generally low correspondence between survey and audit measures. Our findings should help researchers make informed decisions regarding measurement of environmental supports for physical activity.

The authors are with Saint Louis University, St. Louis, MO 63104. Boehmer, Hoehner, Brennan Ramirez, and Brownson are with the university’s Prevention Research Center and Dept of Community Health, School of Public Health. Wyrwich is with the Depts of Research Methodology and Health Services Research.

Journal of Physical Activity and Health