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Develop and Test a BRFSS* Module to Assess Community Indicators that Promote Physical Activity
* Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System

FUNDING SOURCE: Centers for Disease Control National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion Cardiovascular Disease Branch

TIMELINE: October 1999 October 2002


Dwayne E. Porter, PhD (USC-SPH)
Cheryl L. Addy, PhD (USC-SPH)
Karen Kirtland, PhD (USC-PRC)

C. Suzette McClellan, MPH (Wateree Health District, SC DHEC)
Annette Cook, MPH (Wateree Health District, SC DHEC)
Linda J. Neff, MSPH (CDC)
Fiona Bull, PhD (CDC)
Dexter (Bo) Kimsey, PhD (CDC Technical Officer)

The overall goal of this three-year validation project was to develop, administer, and evaluate a survey instrument to be used as a BRFSS module that will assess community residents' perceptions about social and physical environmental factors that may support or restrict active lifestyles. Perceptions of environmental factors will be 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 http://prevention.sph.sc.edu/tools/environmental.htm


Addy CL, Ainsworth BE, Kirtland KA, Wilson DK, Sharpe P, Williams J, Neff L, Kimsey D. Association of social and physical environmental supports for physical activity and walking behaviors. Am J Public Health 2004;94:440-442.

Brownson RC, Chang JJ, Eyler AA, Ainsworth BE, Kirtland KA, Saelens BE, Sallis JF. Measuring the environment for physical activity: A comparison of the reliability of three questionnaires. Am J Pub Health 2004; 94(3):473-483.

Cavnar MM, Kirtland KA, Evans MH, Wilson DK, Williams JE, Mixon GM, Henderson KA. Evaluating the quality of recreation facilities: Developing an assessment tool. Journal of Park and Recreation Administration. 2004;22(1):96-114.

Kirtland KK, Porter DE, Addy CL, Neet MJ, Williams JE, Sharpe PA, Neff LJ, Kimsey CD, Ainsworth BE. Environmental measures of physical activity supports: perception versus reality. Am J Prev Med 2003;24(4):323-331.

Porter DE, Kirtland KA, Neet MJ, Williams JE, Ainsworth BE. Considerations for using a geographic information system to assess environmental supports for physical activity. Preventing Chronic Disease [serial online]. 2004;1(4):Available from: URL: http://www.cdc.gov/pcd/issues/2004/oct/04_0047.htm.

Reed JA, Ainsworth BE, Wilson DK, Mixon G, Cook A. Awareness and use of community walking trails. Preventive Medicine 2004;39:903-908.

Royce SW, Sharpe, PA, Ainsworth, BE, Greaney ML, Neff LJ, Henderson K, Ainsworth BE. (2003). Conceptualizing barriers and supports for physical activity: A qualitative assessment. International Journal of Health Promotion and Education, 41(2): 49-56.

Williams, JE, Evans, M, Kirtland, KA, Cavnar, MM, Sharpe, PA, Neet, M, Cook, A. (2004). Development and use of a tool for assessing sidewalks as an environmental support of physical activity. Health Promotion Practice, 2005;6(1):81-88.

Wilson DK, Kirtland K, Ainsworth BE, Addy CL. Socioeconomic status and perceptions of access and safety for physical activity. Annals Beh Med, 2004 Aug;28(1):20-8.


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