Girls' perception of physical environmental factors and transportation: Reliability and association with physical activity and active transport to school

Kelly R. Evenson, Amanda S. Birnbaum, Ariane L. Bedimo-Rung, James F. Sallis, Carolyn C. Voorhees, Kimberly Ring, John P. Elder

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Background: Preliminary evidence suggests that the physical environment and transportation are associated with youth physical activity levels. Only a few studies have examined the association of physical environmental factors on walking and bicycling to school. Therefore, the purpose of this study was (1) to examine the test-retest reliability of a survey designed for youth to assess perceptions of physical environmental factors (e.g. safety, aesthetics, facilities near the home) and transportation, and (2) to describe the associations of these perceptions with both physical activity and active transport to school. Methods: Test and retest surveys, administered a median of 12 days later, were conducted with 480 sixth- and eighthgrade girls in or near six U.S. communities. The instrument consisted of 24 questions on safety and aesthetics of the perceived environment and transportation and related facilities. Additionally, girls were asked if they were aware of 14 different recreational facilities offering structured and unstructured activities, and if so, whether they would visit these facilities and the ease with which they could access them. Test-retest reliability was determined using kappa coefficients, overall and separately by grade. Associations with physical activity and active transport to school were examined using mixed model logistic regression (n = 610), adjusting for grade, race/ethnicity, and site. Results: Item-specific reliabilities for questions assessing perceived safety and aesthetics of the neighborhood ranged from 0.31 to 0.52. Reliabilities of items assessing awareness of and interest in going to the 14 recreational facilities ranged from 0.47 to 0.64. Reliabilities of items assessing transportation ranged from 0.34 to 0.58. Some items on girls' perceptions of perceived safety, aesthetics of the environment, facilities, and transportation were important correlates of physical activity and, in some cases, active transport to school. Conclusion: This study provides some psychometric support for the use of the questionnaire on physical environmental factors and transportation for studying physical activity and active transport to school among adolescent girls. Further work can continue to improve reliability of these self-report items and examine their association of these factors with objectively measured physical activity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number28
JournalInternational Journal of Behavioral Nutrition and Physical Activity
Publication statusPublished - Sep 14 2006
Externally publishedYes


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Nutrition and Dietetics
  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation

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