Measuring Canadian Perceptions of Neighbourhood Environments and Physical Activity

Updated: Jun 23, 2020

Results from “Test–retest Reliability and Construct Validity of an Online and Paper Administered Physical Activity Neighborhood Environment Scale (PANES)”.

Frehlich, L., Blackstaffe, A., & McCormack, G.R.

The neighbourhood built environment can be an important factor influencing people’s physical activity levels (1). Both objective and self-reported mechanisms have been used to measure the built environment. Google street view and neighbourhood audits are examples of objective measurements of neighbourhood environments. Self-reported measures involve asking residents about their perceptions of their neighbourhood (2). Self-reported measures of neighbourhood environment have even been associated with increased physical activity independent of objective measures (3). In other words, if you think that your neighbourhood is more walkable you may do more walking even if objectively the neighbourhood is not supportive for walking (3). Therefore, the development of tools to measure self-reported neighbourhood environments is of great interest to researchers. One common self-reported measure is the Physical Activity Neighborhood Environment Scale (PANES) (4).

The PANES asks questions about the neighbourhood environment such as the types of housing available, and access to sidewalks, transit stops and destinations (e.g., shop, stores, and recreation facilities). The PANES also asks questions related to crime rates and its affect on walking habits (4). This survey has been used internationally to compare the association between the neighbourhood built environment and physical activity in 11 different countries (Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, China, Japan, Lithuania, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden and the United States) (5). The aim of this study was to assess the reliability and validity of the PANES in a Canadian population. Two different sets of participants completed the PANES either online, or hard copy with paper and pencil. The PANES was then repeated amongst the same group of participants seven days later. The results from the two completions were assessed for similarity and the participant’s PANES score for their neighbourhood was compared to their neighbourhood’s Walk Score ®, an objective measure of neighbourhood walkability. The results showed that the PANES provides reliable estimates of neighbourhood built environment supportiveness for transportation physical activity and was associated with Walk Score ® among Canadian adults. The PANES is therefore a viable option for Canadian researchers investigating relationships between the built environment and physical activity.

Suggested Citation: Levi Frehlich, Anita Blackstaffe & Gavin R. McCormack (2019): Test–retest Reliability and Construct Validity of an Online and Paper Administered Physical Activity Neighborhood Environment Scale (PANES), Measurement in Physical Education and Exercise Science, DOI: 10.1080/1091367X.2019.1641099

Written by Levi Frehlich, MSC, BScKin | Posted on January 4th, 2020


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