The 131st Annual Meeting (November 15-19, 2003) of APHA

The 131st Annual Meeting (November 15-19, 2003) of APHA

3236.0: Monday, November 17, 2003 - 1:30 PM

Abstract #63999

Improving walking and bicycling in communities: A formative evaluation of the WABSA Project

James E. Emery, MPH, Health Behavior and Health Education, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, CB# 7440, UNC School of Public Health, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7440, (919) 966-7172, and Carolyn E. Crump, PhD, Dept. of Health Behavior and Health Education, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, CB# 7440, Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7440.

Background: Improving the built environment in communities is one way to increase physical activity through walking and bicycling. Tools and methods have been developed to assess the suitability of sidewalks and roads for these activities. The Walking and Bicycling Suitability Assessment (WABSA) Project has trained ten communities in four states to assess and improve local built environments. Theoretical Framework: Socio-ecology and pedestrian-oriented urban planning guided the development of the project. Diffusion of Innovation guided the evaluation. Hypothesis: A program consisting of training workshop, implementation manual and technical assistance can help citizen volunteers learn to assess the built environment and advocate for improvements to create more walkable and bikeable communities. Methodology: Process evaluation activities were conducted for projects in ten communities. Post-training evaluation surveys (n=150) and in-depth evaluation interviews with project coordinators were analyzed for project usefulness; adaptability to local needs; and themes regarding training content, applicability, and delivery. Results: Participants consistently reported high levels of learning and utility from WABSA Project training workshops. Half of the communities implemented the project as designed. In-depth interviews identified the strengths of the project (e.g., effectively training volunteers, collecting assessment data, planning advocacy, building inter-disciplinary partnerships) and the challenges facing public health professionals who coordinate efforts to influence transportation policy, design, and planning. Conclusions: With adequate training and technical assistance, public health professionals can help citizens improve existing features of the built environment, and improve design and construction policies that support new opportunities for walking and bicycling in the future.

Learning Objectives:

Keywords: Environment, Assessments

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
Organization/institution whose products or services will be discussed: School of Public Health - The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
I have a significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.
Relationship: Author initially funded by contract with NC DHHS Division of Public Health to research/develop audit methods.

Healthy Lifestyle Initiatives on the State and Local Level

The 131st Annual Meeting (November 15-19, 2003) of APHA