Secondary data are often necessary to assess the availability of commercial physical activity (PA) facilities and examine its association with individual behaviors and outcomes, yet the validity of such sources has been explored only in a limited number of studies.
Field data were collected on the presence and attributes of commercial PA facilities in a random sample of 30 urban, 15 suburban, and 15 rural Census tracts in the Chicago metropolitan statistical area and surrounding area.
Approximately 40% of PA establishments in the field data were listed for both urban and nonurban tracts in both lists except for nonurban tracts in D&B (35%), which was significantly improved in the combined list of D&B and InfoUSA. Approximately one-quarter of the PA facilities listed in D&B were found on the ground, whereas 40% to 50% of PA facilities listed in InfoUSA were found on the ground. PA establishments that offered instruction programs or lessons or that had a court or pool were less likely to be listed, particularly in the nonurban tracts.
Secondary commercial business lists on PA facilities should be used with caution in assessing the built environment.
Han (corresponding author) is with the College of Pharmacy, Gachon University, and Gachon Institute of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Incheon, Republic of Korea. Powell, Slater, and Quinn are with the Institute for Health Research and Policy, University of Illinois at Chicago.