Home Versus Nonhome Neighborhood: Quantifying Differences in Exposure to the Built Environment

Am J Prev Med. 2012 Apr;42(4):411-7. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2011.11.015.


Background: Built environment and health research have focused on characteristics of home neighborhoods, whereas overall environmental exposures occur over larger spatial ranges.

Purpose: Differences in built environment characteristics were analyzed for home and nonhome locations using GPS data.

Methods: GPS data collected in 2007-2008 were analyzed for 41 subjects in the Seattle area in 2010. Environmental characteristics for 3.8 million locations were measured using novel GIS data sets called SmartMaps, representing spatially continuous values of local built environment variables in the domains of neighborhood composition, utilitarian destinations, transportation infrastructure, and traffic conditions. Using bootstrap sampling, CIs were estimated for differences in built environment values for home (<833 m of home address) and nonhome (>1666 m) GPS locations.

Results: Home and nonhome built environment values were significantly different for more than 90% of variables across subjects (p<0.001). Only 51% of subjects had higher counts of supermarkets near than away from home. Different measures of neighborhood parks yielded varying results.

Conclusions: SmartMaps helped measure local built environment characteristics for a large set of GPS locations. Most subjects had significantly different home and nonhome built environment exposures. Considering the full range of individuals' environmental exposures may improve understanding of effects of the built environment on behavior and health outcomes.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Geographic Information Systems
  • Health Behavior*
  • Housing / statistics & numerical data*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care
  • Residence Characteristics*