Measuring the environment for friendliness toward physical activity: a comparison of the reliability of 3 questionnaires

Am J Public Health. 2004 Mar;94(3):473-83. doi: 10.2105/ajph.94.3.473.


Objectives: We tested the reliability of 3 instruments that assessed social and physical environments.

Methods: We conducted a test-retest study among US adults (n = 289). We used telephone survey methods to measure suitableness of the perceived (vs objective) environment for recreational physical activity and nonmotorized transportation.

Results: Most questions in our surveys that attempted to measure specific characteristics of the built environment showed moderate to high reliability. Questions about the social environment showed lower reliability than those that assessed the physical environment. Certain blocks of questions appeared to be selectively more reliable for urban or rural respondents.

Conclusions: Despite differences in content and in response formats, all 3 surveys showed evidence of reliability, and most items are now ready for use in research and in public health surveillance.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Environment Design / standards*
  • Exercise / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Recreation / psychology
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Residence Characteristics / statistics & numerical data*
  • Rural Population / statistics & numerical data
  • Social Environment*
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires*
  • United States
  • Urban Population / statistics & numerical data
  • Walking / psychology*
  • Walking / statistics & numerical data