177665 Perceived neighborhood safety as a moderator of activity participation frequency in suburban dwelling adults

Monday, October 27, 2008

Justin B. Moore, PhD, MS , Department of Public Health, Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University, Greenville, NC
Kindal A. Shores, PhD , Department of Recreation and Leisure Studies, East Carolina University, Greenville, NC
Stephanie T. West, PhD , Department of Health, Leisure, and Exercise Science, Appalachian State University, Boone, NC
Purpose: To understand the unique contribution of perceived neighborhood safety for physical activity (PA) participation among rural adults when other environmental correlates are considered.

Methods: A total of 441 residents (52% male, mean age 51.9 years) living outside the city limits of a mid-size southeastern US city returned self-administered questionnaires during fall and winter of 2007. One thousand single family households within 1.5 miles (Euclidean distance) of open space targeted for park development were invited to complete a questionnaire assessing their current physical activity levels ( I-PAQ short form), perceived neighborhood safety (Environmental Supports For Physical Activity Questionnaire), infrastructure for walking and cycling (Subsection of Saint Louis Environment and Physical Activity Instrument), and an investigator developed questionnaire which identified access to PA areas, preferences for the pending development and demographic information. The unique contribution of perceived neighborhood safety was determined using a blocked ordinary least squares regression.

Results: Individual age, race/ethnicity, level of income, and gender were entered in the first block. Socio-demographic factors explained for 3.8% (adj. R2 = .038) of the variance in minutes of physical activity in the last 7 days. Next, known environmental correlates of activity participation were entered as a second block in the regression. Infrastructure for walking and cycling and reported access to PA facilities significantly improved the model (p < .01, R2 change = 0.14). When perceived neighborhood safety items were added as a third block in the analysis, the model again improved significantly (p < .001, R2 change = 0.15) with the inclusive model explaining 31.8% of respondents' variance in reported physical activity levels. Examination of standardized beta coefficients indicated the significant positive correlations between neighborhood safety (β = 0.143, p < .01) and infrastructure for walking and cycling (β = 0.115, p < .05) and physical activity. A significant negative association was observed between respondents' level of income and physical activity achievement (β = -0.055, p < .05).

Conclusions: The present results highlight the importance of perceived safety as a moderator of physical activity in suburban dwelling adults. Since modifications to the built environment (e.g., park development) can increase perceptions of safety, the results of this study support efficacy of such interventions to increase physical activity in adults.

Learning Objectives:
Participants will be able to describe the importance of perceived neighborhood safety for physical activity participation among rural adults. Participants will be able to describe differences in how safety may operate as a barrier to physical activity in rural settings than in urban settings. Participants will recognize other correlates of PA levels in rural adult populations.

Keywords: Physical Activity, Environment

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I was involved with the writing and analysis for the content to be presented.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.