227803 Assessing the need for a neighborhood rollability index for people who use wheelchairs using geographical information systems

Tuesday, November 9, 2010 : 5:06 PM - 5:24 PM

Yochai Eisenberg, MUPP , Department of Disability and Human Development, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL
Vijay Vasudevan, MPH , Department of Disability and Human Development, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL
James Rimmer, PhD , Occupational Therapy, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, AL
Edward Wang, PhD , Disability and Human Development, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL
Several walkability indices have been created for ambulatory individuals but there are no equivalent indices for people who use wheelchairs. The purpose of this exploratory study was to use analytical GIS methods from established walkability indices to objectively examine the influence of environmental variables on wheelchair users. Using publicly available data on crime, transportation, parks, street connectivity, residential density and land use mix, we examined the relationships between neighborhood environmental variables and health related data from a convenience sample of 45 wheelchair users from a large urban setting. Results showed that subjects were less likely to use public transportation in high crime areas (r = .353, p<.05). Objectively measured Body Mass Index (BMI) was positively associated with the number of transit stops (r = .438, p<.001), crime (r = .448, p<.05), residential density (r = .525, p < .05) and land use mix (r = .486, p < .05). These unexpected results indicate that wheelchair users living in highly walkable areas (i.e. higher residential density, transportation options and a diversity of land uses) may be affected differently by the environmental variables listed in typical walkability indices. Future research should develop a rollability index to further explore the causal relationship between the built environment and wheelchair use, including additional variables such as sidewalk accessibility, availability of disability resources, and stop light timing. A rollability index would be useful to city planners and policy makers working to build disability-friendly environments in urban settings.

Learning Areas:
Environmental health sciences
Public health or related public policy

Learning Objectives:
1. Assess the need for a rollability index for people who use wheelchairs. 2. Demonstrate the ability of GIS to measure environmental variables that affect the health of people who use wheelchairs. 3. Formulate a rollability index based on environmental variables that are relevant for people who use wheelchairs

Keywords: Geographic Information Systems, Planning

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I have a master's degree in urban planning and policy and significant experience in the topic I am presenting
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.