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Philip J. Troped, Ellen K. Cromley, Maren S. Fragala, Steven J. Melly, Hope H. Hasbrouck, Steven L. Gortmaker, and Ross C. Brownson

Background:

To determine how trail characteristics may influence use, reliable and valid audit tools are needed.

Methods:

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.

Results:

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.

Conclusions:

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

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Jeanette Gustat, Christopher E. Anderson, and Sandy J. Slater

public spaces is important in research to assess the relationship between environments, activity, and health outcome. 21 , 29 , 30 Current built environment audit tools for parks are generally long, assess many items, and present a substantial burden to implementation in research due to their length

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Michelle Hamilton, Karen Meaney, and Melissa Martinez

, an equity audit for student success. More specifically, we focus on how this process informed practice within one of the College’s Departments (Health and Human Performance) and Programs (Exercise and Sports Science [ESS]). Thus, before we delve into the COE’s equity audit process, we offer a brief

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Alyson B. Harding, Nancy W. Glynn, Stephanie A. Studenski, Philippa J. Clarke, Ayushi A. Divecha, and Andrea L. Rosso

characteristics use coarse existing historical data, such as census data or street maps, but fail to address more detailed neighborhood factors, such as sidewalk quality. Detailed data can be captured with in-person observational audits, but these audits address only current conditions, are time consuming, and

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Hannah M. Badland, Rosanna Keam, Karen Witten, and Robin Kearns

Background:

Public open spaces (POS) are recognized as important to promote physical activity engagement. However, it is unclear how POS attributes, such as activities available, environmental quality, amenities present, and safety, are associated with neighborhood-level walkability and deprivation.

Methods:

Twelve neighborhoods were selected within 1 constituent city of Auckland, New Zealand based on higher (n = 6) or lower (n = 6) walkability characteristics. Neighborhoods were dichotomized as more (n = 7) or less (n = 5) socioeconomically deprived. POS (n = 69) were identified within these neighborhoods and audited using the New Zealand-Public Open Space Tool. Unpaired 1-way analysis of variance tests were applied to compare differences in attributes and overall score of POS by neighborhood walkability and deprivation.

Results:

POS located in more walkable neighborhoods have significantly higher overall scores when compared with less walkable neighborhoods. Deprivation comparisons identified POS located in less deprived communities have better quality environments, but fewer activities and safety features present when compared with more deprived neighborhoods.

Conclusions:

A positive relationship existed between presence of POS attributes and neighborhood walkability, but the relationship between POS and neighborhood-level deprivation was less clear. Variation in neighborhood POS quality alone is unlikely to explain poorer health outcomes for residents in more deprived areas.

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Elizabeth A. Baker, Mario Schootman, Cheryl Kelly, and Ellen Barnidge

Background:

Previous research suggests that access to recreational resources might influence physical activity. Little research, however, has looked at both access to and the characteristics of recreational resources and physical activity.

Methods:

Access to recreational resources was assessed by counting the number of recreational resources in the geographic area. Resource characteristics were assessed through systematic observation (audits) or telephone interview of each resource. Access and characteristics in 2 counties in the St Louis, MO, metropolitan area with different prevalence rates of physical activity were compared using the critical-ratio (Z) test with P value for the difference between 2 independent proportions, given that the count and sample size were used to assess differences in access to equipment and presence of physical disorder. Financial accessibility was assessed for each facility.

Results:

Data indicated significant differences in access and characteristics between the 2 areas that mimic differences in levels of physical activity.

Conclusion:

Our findings suggest that both access to and characteristics of recreational resources can contribute to differential rates of physical activity.

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Tegan K. Boehmer, Christine M. Hoehner, Kathleen W. Wyrwich, Laura K. Brennan Ramirez, and Ross C. Brownson

Background:

Neighborhood environmental supports for physical activity are assessed via telephone surveys (perceived) and environmental audits (observed), but the correspondence between methods is not known.

Methods.

Surveys (N = 1068) and audits were conducted concurrently in four diverse urban settings to measure recreational facilities, land use, transportation environment, and aesthetics. Agreement was assessed with kappa (κ) statistics.

Results.

Kappa values ranged from –0.06 to 0.47 for the 28 item-pairs: 17 item-pairs were classified as poor agreement (κ ≤ 0.20), 10 as fair (κ = 0.21-0.40), and 1 as good (κ = 0.47). The highest agreement was observed for proximity to parks, trails, and various land-use destinations, presence of sidewalks, and measures of neighborhood maintenance and cleanliness.

Conclusions.

Methodological issues and/or the likelihood of capturing distinct aspects of the environment may explain the generally low correspondence between survey and audit measures. Our findings should help researchers make informed decisions regarding measurement of environmental supports for physical activity.

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Ross C. Brownson, Christine M. Hoehner, Laura K. Brennan, Rebeka A. Cook, Michael B. Elliott, and Kathleen M. McMullen

Purpose:

To understand the relationships between street-scale environments and rates of physical activity, it is crucial to develop reliable methods of measurement. Community audits are commonly used to test the walkability and bikability of environments, yet few have been tested for reliability.

Methods:

Audit tools were collected from the peer-reviewed literature, the Internet, and experts from a variety of backgrounds. Two versions of an audit instrument were created: an “analytic” (with Likert-scale and ordinal-response choices) and a “checklist” (with dichotomous response choices) audit tool. Audits were conducted in St Louis, MO for 147 street segments, representing both higher and lower income neighborhoods. The same segments were re-audited to assess interrater reliability.

Results:

Characteristics of the physical environment varied considerably across lower and higher income segments. For example, in the checklist audit, physical disorder was present for 67 segments in lower income segments, compared with 0 segments in higher income segments. Among 8 questions from each audit tool designed to broadly capture environmental attributes, most had moderate to poor agreement. Most of the transportation and land-use items demonstrated high (substantial or perfect) agreement, and the aesthetics and social environment items showed reliability in the moderate to fair range.

Conclusions:

A community audit tool can be relatively easy and quick to administer and, for many domains, is reliable. Our audit tools appear particularly well suited for capturing elements in the transportation and land-use environments.

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Anna M. Chudyk, Meghan Winters, Erin Gorman, Heather A. McKay, and Maureen C. Ashe

The authors investigated the use of Google Earth’s Street View option to audit the presence of built environment features that support older adults’ walking. Two raters conducted virtual (Street View) and in-the-field audits of 48 street segments surrounding urban and suburban assisted living sites in metropolitan Vancouver, BC, Canada. The authors determined agreement using absolute agreement. Their findings indicate that Street View may identify the presence of features that promote older adults’ walking, including sidewalks, benches, public washrooms, and destinations. However, Street View may not be as reliable as in-the-field audits to identify details associated with certain items, such as counts of trees or street lights; presence, features, and height of curb cuts; and sidewalk continuity, condition, and slope. Thus, the appropriateness of virtual audits to identify microscale built environment features associated with older adults’ walking largely depends on the purpose of the audits—specifically, whether the measurer seeks to capture highly detailed features of the built environment.

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Mona Seymour, Kim D. Reynolds, and Jennifer Wolch

Background:

Reliable audit tools are needed to examine the potential of built environment features for physical activity.

Methods:

An audit tool for alley environments was developed with land use, substrate, and use, condition, and safety items. Two audit teams independently audited 29 Los Angeles alleys, and interteam reliability was calculated with Cohen’s and prevalence-adjusted, bias-adjusted kappa (PABAK) statistics; intraclass correlation coefficients; and percent observed agreement.

Results:

Forty-two of 47 dichotomous items analyzed for reliability had PABAK values ≥ 0.61 (“substantial agreement”). Sixteen of 23 ordinal and continuous response items analyzed had ICCs ≥ 0.61, and an additional 6 with lower ICC values had observed agreement ≥ 79%. Items concerning the presence or absence of use-related alley features demonstrated the lowest reliability.

Conclusions:

The instrument has acceptable reliability for most of its items and appears to be a promising tool for use by other researchers and professionals in the measurement of alley environments.