Recently, investigators have begun to refine audit instruments for use in rural areas. However, no studies have developed a walkability summary score or have correlated built environment characteristics with physical activity behavior.
The Rural Pedestrian Environmental Audit Instrument was developed specifically for use in rural areas. Segments surrounding participant’s homes were selected to represent neighborhood streets (N = 116). Interrater reliability was conducted on a subset of streets (N = 42). Rural-specific domain and walkability scores were developed and correlated with individual-level data on perceptions of the neighborhood and self-reported physical activity behavior.
Interrater reliability for the instrument was substantial and all domains had high agreement. Walkability in the audited area was low with even the best segments demonstrating only moderate support for walking. There were no significant correlations between the neighborhood walkability score and self-reported neighborhood walkability, time spent walking, sedentary behavior, or BMI; however, a few correlations within the social/dynamic domain were significant.
This study expands recent research refining audit instruments for rural areas. Findings suggest the usefulness of summarizing environmental data at the domain level and linking it to physical activity behavior to identify aspects of the neighborhood environment that are most strongly correlated with actual behavior.