A growing number of studies have examined correlates of walking-to/from-school behaviors. However, the potential differences across neighborhoods have been understudied. To address this knowledge gap, this study compared 4 elementary school settings (low-income inner-city; mid- to low-income, urban with and without freeway in attendance area; and high-income suburban) in Austin, Texas.
Parental surveys (n = 680, response rate = 25%) were analyzed using binary logistic regressions to identify correlates of walking to/from school for each setting. Five focus groups were conducted with 15 parents and analyzed using content analysis to supplement the survey results.
Parents’ personal barrier was the only consistently significant variable across 4 settings (OR = 0.113−0.463, P < .05). Parental education showed contrasting results between the suburban setting (OR = 3.895, P < .01) and the urban setting with freeway presence (OR = 0.568, P < .05). Personal attitude and walking habit had lower explanatory power in lower-income settings than in the higher-income site. But sociodemographic, physical environment, and safety conditions had greater explanatory power in lower-income settings. Freeway barrier was significant in the inner-city setting (OR = 0.029, P < .05) and the urban setting with freeway presence (OR = 0.142, P < .05).
Significant differences in correlates of walking-to/from-school behaviors were found across the 4 elementary school settings, suggesting the importance of context-sensitive approaches in future research and practice.
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xuliZhu is with the Dept of Architecture, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX. Lee is with the Dept of Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX. Kwok is with the Dept of Educational Psychology, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX. Varni is with the Dept of Pediatrics and the Dept of Landscape Architecture and Urban Planning, Texas A&M University, College Station, TX.