Background: Spaces that promote play are important for the physical, social, and psychological growth of children. Public spaces, including playgrounds, provide an important venue for children to engage in play. A simple tool is needed to evaluate playground features and conditions. Methods: A simple play space audit instrument to assess the presence and condition of playground features was tested on a sample of 70 playgrounds during the summer of 2017, in Chicago, IL. Duplicate observations were collected on 17 playgrounds. Frequencies of features were tabulated, and reliability of variables was assessed using percent agreement and kappa statistic. Scores were created to summarize playground “playability,” overall and within domains of general overview, surface, path, and play equipment/structure features. Results: The tool demonstrated acceptable reliability with high kappa values between .79 and .90 for all items in domains. The overall score, general overview score, and play equipment/structure scores were correlated with mean playground usage. Conclusions: This brief instrument allows reliable assessment of playground features and their conditions. The scoring method generates a summary of playground conditions and features, which facilitates comparison of playgrounds. This tool has the potential to assist communities in evaluating their play spaces and identifying where to focus resources for improvements.
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Jeanette Gustat, Christopher E. Anderson, and Sandy J. Slater
Kathryn M. Parker, Jeanette Gustat, and Janet C. Rice
People are more physically active in neighborhoods that are well designed for walking and bicycling. Building infrastructure for safer cycling is one way to promote physical activity. On-road bike lanes are one type of infrastructure hypothesized to positively impact levels of cycling. The first on-street bike lane was painted in New Orleans, LA during the spring of 2008.
In November of 2007 and again in November 2008, trained observers conducted manual counts of cyclists riding on St. Claude Avenue in New Orleans, LA. The data collected included the number of men, women, adults, and children riding a bicycle with traffic, against traffic, and on sidewalks.
Data showed a 57% increase in the average number of riders per day (P < .001). There was a 133% increase among adult female riders (P < .001) and a 44% increase among adult male riders (P < .001). The percentage of cyclists riding in the correct direction, with the flow of traffic, increased from 73% to 82% (P < .001).
Bike lanes can have a positive impact in creating a healthy physical environment. Future research should include other streets for comparison purposes and surveys to determine whether riders are substituting biking for nonactive forms of transportation.
Ariane L. Bedimo-Rung, Jeanette Gustat, Bradley J. Tompkins, Janet Rice, and Jessica Thomson
The study’s purpose is to describe the development and evaluate the reliability (inter-observer agreement) and validity (rater agreement with a gold standard) of a direct observation instrument to assess park characteristics that may be related to physical activity.
A direct observation instrument of 181 items was developed based on a conceptual model consisting of the following domains: features, condition, access, esthetics, and safety. Fifteen pairs of observers were trained and sent to two parks simultaneously to assess two Target Areas each.
Overall domain reliability was 86.9%, and overall geographic area reliability was 87.5%. Overall domain validity was 78.7% and overall geographic area validity was 81.5%.
Inter-rater reliability and validity were generally good, although validity was slightly lower than reliability. Objective items showed the highest reliability and validity. Items that are time-sensitive may need to be measured on multiple occasions, while items asking for subjective responses may require more supervised practice.
Ariane L. Rung, Andrew J. Mowen, Stephanie T. Broyles, and Jeanette Gustat
Neighborhood parks play an important role in promoting physical activity. We examined the effect of activity area, condition, and presence of supporting features on number of park users and park-based physical activity levels.
37 parks and 154 activity areas within parks were assessed during summer 2008 for their features and park-based physical activity. Outcomes included any park use, number of park users, mean and total energy expenditure. Independent variables included type and condition of activity area, supporting features, size of activity area, gender, and day of week. Multilevel models controlled for clustering of observations at activity area and park levels.
Type of activity area was associated with number of park users, mean and total energy expenditure, with basketball courts having the highest number of users and total energy expenditure, and playgrounds having the highest mean energy expenditure. Condition of activity areas was positively associated with number of basketball court users and inversely associated with number of green space users and total green space energy expenditure. Various supporting features were both positively and negatively associated with each outcome.
This study provides evidence regarding characteristics of parks that can contribute to achieving physical activity goals within recreational spaces.
Ariane L. Bedimo-Rung, Jessica L. Thomson, Andrew J. Mowen, Jeanette Gustat, Bradley J. Tompkins, Patricia K. Strikmiller, and Melinda S. Sothern
Parks provide environments for physical activity, yet little is known about how natural disasters affect them or how these disasters alter physical activity. Our objectives were to (1) describe the development of an instrument to assess park conditions following a hurricane and (2) document the conditions of New Orleans’ parks 3 and 6 months after Hurricane Katrina.
A Post-Hurricane Assessment (PHA) instrument was developed and implemented in 54 parks 3 and 6 months post-hurricane.
Summary scores of the Park Damage Index and the Neighborhood Damage Index showed improvement between 3 and 6 months of data collection. Parks and neighborhoods most affected by the hurricane were located in the most- and least-affluent areas of the city.
The PHA proved to be a promising tool for assessing park conditions in a timely manner following a natural disaster and allowed for the creation of summary damage scores to correlate to community changes.
Jeanette Gustat, Christopher E. Anderson, Keelia O’Malley, Tian Hu, Rachel G. Tabak, Karin Valentine Goins, Cheryl Valko, Jill S. Litt, and Amy A. Eyler
Background: To assess how perceptions of the community built environment influence support for community policies that promote physical activity (PA). Methods: A national cross-sectional survey assessed perceptions of the local built environment and support of community policies, including school and workplace policies, promoting PA. A random digit–dialed telephone survey was conducted in US counties selected on Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System data for high or low prevalence of obesity and inactivity. A total of 1208 subjects were interviewed, 642 from high-prevalence counties and 566 from low-prevalence counties. Analyses were stratified by county prevalence of obesity and inactivity (high or low). Linear models adjusted for covariates were constructed to assess the influence of built environment perceptions on policy support. Results: Perception of more destinations near the residence was associated with increased support for community policies that promote PA, including tax increases in low-prevalence (obesity and inactivity) counties (P < .01). Positive perception of the workplace environment was associated (P < .001) with increased support for workplace policies among those in high-, but not low-, prevalence counties. Conclusions: Support for community policies promoting PA varies by perception of the built environment, which has implications for policy change.
Amy Eyler, Jamie Chriqui, Jay Maddock, Angie Cradock, Kelly R. Evenson, Jeanette Gustat, Steven Hooker, Rodney Lyn, Michelle Segar, Nancy O’Hara Tompkins, and Susan G. Zieff
In the United States, health promotion efforts often begin with state-level strategic plans. Many states have obesity, nutrition, or other topic-related plans that include physical activity (PA). The purpose of this study was to assess PA content in these state plans and make recommendations for future plan development.
Publically available plans were collected in 2010. A content analysis tool was developed based on the United States National PA Plan and included contextual information and plan content. All plans were double coded for reliability and analyzed using SPSS.
Forty-three states had a statewide plan adopted between 2002 and 2010, none of which focused solely on PA. Over 80% of PA-specific strategies included policy or environmental changes. Most plans also included traditional strategies to increase PA (eg, physical education, worksite). Few plans included a specific focus on land use/community design, parks/recreation, or transportation. Less than one-half of plans included transportation or land use/community design partners in plan development.
Though the majority of states had a PA-oriented plan, comprehensiveness varied by state. Most plans lacked overarching objectives on the built environment, transportation, and land use/community design. Opportunities exist for plan revision and alignment with the National PA Plan sectors and strategies.