Correlates of non-concordance between perceived and objective measures of walkability

Gebel, Klaus, Bauman, Adrian, and Owen, Neville (2009) Correlates of non-concordance between perceived and objective measures of walkability. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 37 (2). pp. 228-238.

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Background: Objective and self-reported physical environmental attributes have been related to physical activity.

Purpose: We examined the characteristics of adults who are resident in objectively identified high walkable neighborhoods but whose perceptions of neighborhood attributes are not concordant with objective attributes relating to high walkability.

Methods: Neighborhood built-environment attributes relating to walkability (dwelling density, intersection density, land use mix, and net retail area) were determined objectively, using Geographic Information System databases; data on corresponding perceptions of local environment attributes (from the Neighborhood Environment Walkability Scale) were derived from a self-completion survey of a socially diverse sample of 2,650 adults aged 19 to 65. Objective and perceived walkability attributes were categorized using median splits, and correlates of non-concordance were determined using multiple logistic regression models.

Results: There was a fair overall agreement between objectively determined walkability and perceived walkability (Kappa = 0.35, 95% CI = 0.31–0.39). Among those resident in objectively assessed high walkable areas (n = 1,063), 32.1% perceived them to be low walkable; conversely, 32.7% (n = 1,021) resident in objectively determined low walkability areas perceived them to be high. For residents of objectively determined high walkable areas, the characteristics that differentiated those with perceptions of low walkability (non-concordant perceptions) from those with concordant perceptions of high walkability were: not being university-educated (OR = 1.47, 95% CI = 1.06–2.04); having lower household incomes (OR = 1.54, 95% CI = 1.09–2.17); being overweight (OR = 1.46, 95% CI = 1.03–2.07); and walking fewer days per week for transport (OR = 1.75, 95% CI = 1.11–2.70). Higher walking times and more positive cognitive variables were noted among participants who lived in a neighborhood with low walkability that was perceived as high compared to those who lived in a high walkable environment that was perceived as low walkable.

Conclusion Adults with lower educational attainment and lower incomes, who were overweight, or who were less physically active for transportation purposes, were more likely to misperceive their high walkable neighborhood as low walkable. There is the potential for physical activity promotion and persuasion strategies to address non-concordant perceptions, especially among those who live in high walkable environments but perceive them to be low and also among those who are socially disadvantaged and are less active. Perceptions of environmental attributes may be more strongly correlated with cognitive antecedents and with behavior than are objective measures.

Item ID: 36746
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1532-4796
Keywords: walkability, walkable area, physical activity , GIS, built environment, awareness
Funders: National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), Sport Knowledge Australia, Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute, Queensland Health
Projects and Grants: NHMRC (213114, 301200)
Date Deposited: 09 Dec 2014 23:39
FoR Codes: 11 MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES > 1117 Public Health and Health Services > 111712 Health Promotion @ 70%
11 MEDICAL AND HEALTH SCIENCES > 1117 Public Health and Health Services > 111705 Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety @ 15%
12 BUILT ENVIRONMENT AND DESIGN > 1205 Urban and Regional Planning > 120508 Urban Design @ 15%
SEO Codes: 92 HEALTH > 9204 Public Health (excl. Specific Population Health) > 920499 Public Health (excl. Specific Population Health) not elsewhere classified @ 80%
92 HEALTH > 9204 Public Health (excl. Specific Population Health) > 920405 Environmental Health @ 20%
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