Development and Reliability and Validity Testing of an Audit Tool for Trail/Path Characteristics: The Path Environment Audit Tool (PEAT)

in Journal of Physical Activity and Health
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To determine how trail characteristics may influence use, reliable and valid audit tools are needed.


The Path Environment Audit Tool (PEAT) was developed with design, amenity, and aesthetics/maintenance items. Two observers independently audited 185 trail segments at 6 Massachusetts facilities. GPS-derived items were used as a “gold standard.” Kappa (k) statistics, observed agreement and intraclass correlation coefficients (ICCs) were calculated to assess inter-observer reliability and validity.


Fifteen of 16 primary amenity items had k-values ≥ 0.49 (“moderate”) and all had observed agreement ≥ 81%. Seven binary design items had k-values ranging from 0.19 to 0.71 and three of 5 ordinal items had ICCs ≥ 0.52. Only two aesthetics/maintenance items (n = 7) had moderate ICCs. Observed agreement between PEAT and GPS items was ≥ 0.77; k-values were ≥ 0.57 for 7 out of 10 comparisons.


PEAT has acceptable reliability for most of its primary items and appears ready for use by researchers and practitioners.

Troped, Fragala, Melly, and Gortmaker are with the Prevention Research Center and Dept of Society, Human Development and Health, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA 02115. Cromley is with the Dept of Geography, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT 06269. Hasbrouck is with the School of Architecture, University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX 78712. Brownson is with the Prevention Research Center and Dept of Community Health, School of Public Health, Saint Louis University School of Public Health, St. Louis, MO 63104.