FUNDING SOURCE: CDC PRC Special Interest Project, U48/CCU409664 SIP 4-99 (1999-2002)


  • Barbara E. Ainsworth, PhD, MPH



  • C. Suzette McClellan, MPH
  • Annette Cook, MPH
  • Linda J. Neff, MSPH
  • Fiona Bull, PhD
  • Dexter (Bo) Kimsey, PhD

The overall goal of this three-year validation project was to develop, administer, and evaluate a survey instrument to be used as a Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) module that would assess community residents' perceptions about social and physical environmental factors that may support or restrict active lifestyles.  Perceptions of environmental factors were correlated with the actual presence of factors as assessed by Geographical Information Systems (GIS) technology, and with community-level prevalence of physical activity levels. Specific aims included:

  • Develop a framework of community indicators that may be perceived as supportive or restrictive of active living
  • Compile survey items for assessment of perceptions of community indicators
  • Evaluate the survey items for clarity, comprehension, and relevance
  • Develop a GIS database of environmental landscape features of the study community
  • Administer the survey to community residents
  • Analyze the associations between environmental supports for physical activity, community-level physical activity patterns, and landscape features. Urban/rural and racial disparities will also be included in analyses
  • At the conclusion of the project, disseminate findings and tools to partner organizations and the lay and scientific communities

A copy of the tool that was tested can be found at

Addy, C. L., Wilson, D. K., Kirtland, K. A., Ainsworth, B. E., Sharpe, P., & Kimsey, D. (2004). Associations of perceived social and physical environmental supports with physical activity and walking behavior. Am J Public Health, 94(3), 440-443.

Brownson, R. C., Chang, J. J., Eyler, A. A., Ainsworth, B. E., Kirtland, K. A., Sealens, B. E., & Sallis, J. F. (2004). Measuring the environment for friendliness toward physical activity: A comparison of the reliability of 3 questionnaires. American Journal of Public Health, 94(3), 473-483.

Cavnar, M. M., Kirtland, K. A., Evans, M. H., Wilson, D. K., Williams, J. E., Mixon, G. M., & Henderson, K. A. (2004). Evaluating the quality of recreation facilities: Development of an assessment tool. Journal of Park and Recreation Administration, 22(1), 96-114.

Kirtland, K. A., Porter, D. E., Addy, C. L., Neet, M. J., Williams, J. E., Sharpe, P. A., Neff, L. J., Kimsey, C. D., Jr., & Ainsworth, B. E. (2003). Environmental measures of physical activity supports: perception versus reality. Am J Prev Med, 24(4), 323-331.

Porter, D. E., Kirtland, K., Neet, M. J., Williams, J. E., & Ainsworth, B. (2004). Considerations for using a geographic information system to assess environmental supports for physical activity. Prev Chronic Dis [serial online], 1(4),

Reed, J. A., Ainsworth, B. E., Wilson, D. K., Mixon, G., & Cook, A. (2004). Awareness and use of community walking trails. Prev Med, 39(5), 903-908.

Royce, S. W., Sharpe, P., Greaney, M. L., & Neff, L. J. (2003). Conceptualizing barriers and supports to physical activity: A qualitative assessment International Journal of Health Promotion and Education, 41(2), 49-56.

Williams, J. E., Evans, M., Kirtland, K. A., Cavnar, M. M., Sharpe, P. A., Neet, M., & Cook, A. (2005). Development and use of a tool for assessing sidewalks as an environmental support of physical activity. Health Promotion Practice, 6(1), 81-88.

Wilson, D. K., Kirtland, K. A., Ainsworth, B. E., & Addy, C. L. (2004). Socioeconomic status and perceptions of access and safety for physical activity. Ann Behav Med, 28(1), 20-28.