205363 Objectively measuring route-to-park walkability: Data from the Neighborhood Parks and Active Living Study - Atlanta, GA

Monday, November 9, 2009: 5:00 PM

James E. Dills, MPH MUP , Division of Nutrition and Physical Activity, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA
Candace Rutt, PhD , Division of Nutrition and Physical Activity, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, GA
Karen G. Mumford, PhD , Biology Discipline & Environmental Studies Program, Division of Science and Mathematics, University of Minnesota Morris, Morris, MN
Objectively measuring walkability from pedestrian perspectives refines methodologies that describe walkability at large spatial scales. We aim to describe walkability at the micro-scale, hypothesizing that objective measures of route walkability will be higher for park users than non-users. To address our question, we used a case control design where cases were park users, and controls were randomly selected non-users, all of whom lived within a mile of one of nine parks in Atlanta, GA. For both cases and controls, we determined walking routes based on the shortest network distance from participants' homes to their parks. Trained observers used an assessment tool to score twelve elements along these routes. We calculated a composite walkability score from these twelve elements and compared mean sub-item scores and total scores for case and control routes using t-tests. Logistic regression models examined if walking to parks could be predicted by exposure to walkable routes-to-parks, controlling for distance and socio-demographics. Eight of twelve elements, plus the composite walkability score, showed differences between case and control routes. The strongest difference was for the composite score (p<0.001). The model adjusted for socio-demographics and distance indicated each unit increase in the composite score was associated with a 22% increase in the odds of being a park user (OR:1.22; 95%CI: 1.09,1.36). Environmental characteristics at the pedestrian scale influence individuals' use of their neighborhoods as venues for physical activity. Understanding which elements of the environment are influential at this scale can contribute to evidence-based design interventions to increase physical activity.

Learning Objectives:
Identify aspects of the pedestrian environment that are associated with walking to parks. Describe effective methods for measuring walkability at pedestrian scales. Discuss how walkability analysis can be integrated into policies aimed at increasing physical activity through walking.

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am currently lead investigator for walkability and neighborhood perceptions using the Neighborhood Parks and Active Living study data as a research fellow at CDC. I have presented preliminary findings from this same project at the 2007 Active Living Research Conference in San Diego, CA. I completed a Master of Public Health degree (Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University) in Environmental and Occupational Health where I specialized in built environment research. I completed a Master of Urban Planning degree (School of Urban and Public Affairs, University of Louisville) specializing in spatial analysis for planning.
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.