Background: Research of the effects of the built environment on physical activity often excludes certain segments of the population. The senior population, one segment perhaps most influenced by the physical features of an environment, has been understudied. Developing reliable measures of the environment is important to increase our understanding of the environmental effects on physical activity among seniors.
Methods: A review of urban planning and health literature helped identify important concepts and theories that were used to inform the development of the Senior Walking Environmental Assessment Tool (SWEAT). Urban planning and health research professionals were consulted and provided feedback on the tool. A total of 355 neighborhood segments were assessed using SWEAT. Thirty-six neighborhood segments were assessed for inter-rater reliability.
Results: Overall, raters exhibited good-to-excellent agreement on most items included in SWEAT. Items assessing buildings and destinations were less reliable than other categories.
Conclusions: The development of a reliable senior-specific environmental measurement of detailed street level environmental features that may influence walking among seniors is important to advance this research and engage communities to consider simple environmental changes that encourage walking among seniors.