Mismatch between perceived and objective measures of physical activity environments

Prev Med. 2008 Sep;47(3):294-8. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2008.05.001. Epub 2008 May 9.


Objectives: This study investigated the correspondence between measures of physical activity facilities obtained through self-report and objective audits; and identified the socio-demographic, cognitive and behavioral characteristics of those who perceive their physical activity environment to be less supportive than objective measures indicate.

Methods: Self-report surveys were completed by 1540 women recruited from 45 neighborhoods in Melbourne, Australia. Women reported perceived access to physical activity facilities within 2 km from home, and also socio-demographic, cognitive and behavioral factors. Objective data on physical activity facilities within a 2 km pedestrian catchment area around women's homes were sourced.

Results: There was relatively poor agreement between measures of access to physical activity facilities obtained via self-report and objective assessment. Mismatch between perceived and objectively-assessed environments was more common amongst younger and older women, and women of low income, with low self-efficacy for physical activity, who were less active, who reported using fewer facilities and who had lived in the neighborhood for less than 2 years.

Conclusions: Future studies of environmental determinants of physical activity should consider incorporating objective indices of access to facilities, or accounting for the systematic bias that may result from relying on self-report perceptions as an indicator of the actual physical activity environment.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Environment Design*
  • Environmental Health*
  • Exercise* / psychology
  • Female
  • Health Behavior*
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Activity*
  • Recreation*
  • Residence Characteristics*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Victoria