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Karen Martin, Alexandra Bremner, Jo Salmon, Michael Rosenberg, and Billie Giles-Corti

Background:

The objective of this study was to develop a multidomain model to identify key characteristics of the primary school environment associated with children’s physical activity (PA) during class-time.

Methods:

Accelerometers were used to calculate time spent in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity during class-time (CMVPA) of 408 sixth-grade children (mean ± SD age 11.1 ± 0.43 years) attending 27 metropolitan primary schools in Perth Western Australia. Child and staff self-report instruments and a school physical environment scan administered by the research team were used to collect data about children and the class and school environments. Hierarchical modeling identified key variables associated with CMVPA.

Results:

The final multilevel model explained 49% of CMVPA. A physically active physical education (PE) coordinator, fitness sessions incorporated into PE sessions and either a trained PE specialist, classroom teacher or nobody coordinating PE in the school, rather than the deputy principal, were associated with higher CMVPA. The amount of grassed area per student and sporting apparatus on grass were also associated with higher CMVPA.

Conclusion:

These results highlight the relevance of the school’s sociocultural, policy and physical environments in supporting class-based PA. Interventions testing optimization of the school physical, sociocultural and policy environments to support physical activity are warranted.

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Hayley E. Cutt, Billie Giles-Corti, Matthew W. Knuiman, and Terri J. Pikora

Background:

This study aimed to develop a reliable instrument, the Dogs and Physical Activity (DAPA) tool, for measuring important attributes and scales relating to the dog-walking behavior of dog owners.

Methods:

Items measuring dog-specific individual, social environmental, physical environmental, and policy-related factors that affect dog owners’ walking with their dogs were assessed for test–retest reliability. Factor analysis was undertaken to demonstrate that the collection of test items had underlying constructs consistent with the theoretical framework.

Results:

DAPA-tool items had test–retest reliability scores >.7, indicating a high level of stability. Distinct general and dog-specific constructs of subscales measuring dog-supportive features of parks, barriers to dog walking, and behavioral beliefs about the outcomes of regular dog walking were demonstrated through factor analysis.

Conclusions:

The DAPA tool is the first comprehensive, reliable tool for measuring important attributes and scales relating to dog owners’ physical activity and the context-specific factors that affect owners’ walking with their dogs.

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David Ogilvie, Billie Giles-Corti, Paula Hooper, Lin Yang, and Fiona Bull

Modifying the built environment is increasingly recommended as a means of increasing physical activity, but there is currently little evidence from intervention studies to support this approach. From a discussion of 3 natural experiments in this area (RESIDE, iConnect, and Commuting and Health in Cambridge), several common lessons emerged. First, researchers should anticipate delays in the implementation of interventions that are outside their control, and research funders need to exercise a degree of flexibility to accommodate changing research timetables. Second, new built environments develop and evolve over time, and so do their effects on human behavior. Study designs and exposure measures should take account of this, and long term outcomes should be measured wherever possible to allow for potential sleeper, snowball, or threshold effects emerging over time. Third, it may be difficult to identify suitable control areas for a conventional parallel-group intervention–control design, and it may be necessary to draw on other study designs to provide a counterfactual comparison. Fourth, the effort and cost required to recruit, retain and obtain repeated measurements from participants over a period of years should not be underestimated. Finally, comprehensive process evaluation measures may be required to assess the level and quality of interventions.

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Gavin Turrell, Michele Haynes, Martin O’Flaherty, Nicola Burton, Katrina Giskes, Billie Giles-Corti, and Lee-Ann Wilson

Background:

Further development of high quality measures of neighborhood perceptions will require extensions and refinements to our existing approaches to reliability assessment. This study examined the test-retest reliability of perceptions of the neighborhood environment by socioeconomic status (SES).

Methods:

Test and retest surveys were conducted using a mail survey method with persons aged 40 to 65 years (n = 222, 78.2% response rate). SES was measured using the respondent’s education level and the socioeconomic characteristics of their neighborhood of residence. Reliability was assessed using intraclass correlations (ICC) estimated with random coefficient models.

Results:

Overall, the 27 items had moderate-to-substantial reliability (ICC = 0.41−0.74). Few statistically significant differences were found in ICC between the education groups or neighborhoods, although the ICCs were significantly larger among the low SES for items that measured perceptions of neighborhood greenery, interesting things to see, litter, traffic volume and speed, crime, and rowdy youth on the streets.

Conclusion:

For the majority of the items, poor reliability and subsequent exposure misclassification is no more or less likely among low educated respondents and residents of disadvantaged neighborhoods. Estimates of the association between neighborhood perceptions and physical activity therefore are likely to be similarly precise irrespective of the respondent’s socioeconomic background.

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Sylvia Titze, Billie Giles-Corti, Matthew W. Knuiman, Terri J. Pikora, Anna Timperio, Fiona C. Bull, and Kimberly van Niel

Background:

This study investigated the relationship between individual and neighborhood environmental factors and cycling for transport and for recreation among adults living in Perth, Western Australia.

Methods:

Baseline cross-sectional data from 1813 participants (40.5% male; age range 18 to 78 years) in the RESIDential Environment (RESIDE) project were analyzed. The questionnaire included information on cycling behavior and on cycling-specific individual, social environmental, and neighborhood environmental attributes. Cycling for transport and recreation were dichotomized as whether or not individuals cycled in a usual week.

Results:

Among the individual factors, positive attitudes toward cycling and perceived behavioral control increased the odds of cycling for transport and for recreation. Among the neighborhood environmental attributes, leafy and attractive neighborhoods, access to bicycle/walking paths, the presence of traffic slowing devices and having many 4-way street intersections were positively associated with cycling for transport. Many alternative routes in the local area increased the odds of cycling for recreation.

Conclusions:

Effective strategies for increasing cycling (particularly cycling for transport) may include incorporating supportive environments such as creating leafy and attractive neighborhood surroundings, low traffic speed, and increased street connectivity, in addition to campaigns aimed at strengthening positive attitudes and confidence to cycle.

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Hayley E. Christian, Charlotte D. Klinker, Karen Villanueva, Matthew W. Knuiman, Sarah A. Foster, Stephan R. Zubrick, Mark Divitini, Lisa Wood, and Billie Giles-Corti

Background:

Relationships between context-specific measures of the physical and social environment and children’s independent mobility to neighborhood destination types were examined.

Methods:

Parents in RESIDE’s fourth survey reported whether their child (8–15 years; n = 181) was allowed to travel without an adult to school, friend’s house, park and local shop. Objective physical environment measures were matched to each of these destinations. Social environment measures included neighborhood perceptions and items specific to local independent mobility.

Results:

Independent mobility to local destinations ranged from 30% to 48%. Independent mobility to a local park was less likely as the distance to the closest park (small and large size) increased and less likely with additional school grounds (P < .05). Independent mobility to school was less likely as the distance to the closest large park increased and if the neighborhood was perceived as unsafe (P < .05). Independent mobility to a park or shops decreased if parenting social norms were unsupportive of children’s local independent movement (P < .05).

Conclusions:

Independent mobility appears dependent upon the specific destination being visited and the impact of neighborhood features varies according to the destination examined. Findings highlight the importance of access to different types and sizes of urban green space for children’s independent mobility to parks.

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Natasha Schranz, Tim Olds, Dylan Cliff, Melanie Davern, Lina Engelen, Billie Giles-Corti, Sjaan Gomersall, Louise Hardy, Kylie Hesketh, Andrew Hills, David Lubans, Doune Macdonald, Rona Macniven, Philip Morgan, Tony Okely, Anne-Maree Parish, Ron Plotnikoff, Trevor Shilton, Leon Straker, Anna Timperio, Stewart Trost, Stewart Vella, Jenny Ziviani, and Grant Tomkinson

Background:

Like many other countries, Australia is facing an inactivity epidemic. The purpose of the Australian 2014 Physical Activity Report Card initiative was to assess the behaviors, settings, and sources of influences and strategies and investments associated with the physical activity levels of Australian children and youth.

Methods:

A Research Working Group (RWG) drawn from experts around Australia collaborated to determine key indicators, assess available datasets, and the metrics which should be used to inform grades for each indicator and factors to consider when weighting the data. The RWG then met to evaluate the synthesized data to assign a grade to each indicator.

Results:

Overall Physical Activity Levels were assigned a grade of D-. Other physical activity behaviors were also graded as less than average (D to D-), while Organized Sport and Physical Activity Participation was assigned a grade of B-. The nation performed better for settings and sources of influence and Government Strategies and Investments (A- to a C). Four incompletes were assigned due to a lack of representative quality data.

Conclusions:

Evidence suggests that physical activity levels of Australian children remain very low, despite moderately supportive social, environmental and regulatory environments. There are clear gaps in the research which need to be filled and consistent data collection methods need to be put into place.