A call for caution and transparency in the calculation of land use mix: measurement bias in the estimation of associations between land use mix and physical activity

Health Place. 2014 Sep;29:79-83. doi: 10.1016/j.healthplace.2014.06.002. Epub 2014 Jul 3.


There is evidence that land use mix based on the Shannon (1948) entropy formula may be misspecified in some studies. The aim of this study was to quantify the bias arising from this misspecification. Spatial coordinates were obtained from Statistics Canada for 9348 unique point locations. Five hundred-metre polygon-based network buffers were drawn around each coordinate (ArcGIS 10.1). Land use mix was calculated for each buffer using the true and misspecified land use mix formulas. Linear regression models were used to estimate the associations between a simulated dataset of daily steps and the true and misspecified measures. Misspecification of the land use mix formula resulted in a systematic underestimation of the true association by 26.4% (95% CI 25.8-27.0%). To minimize measurement bias in future studies, researchers are encouraged to use a constant definition of N in the denominator of the Shannon entropy formula.

Keywords: Land use mix; Measurement bias; Physical activity; Walking.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Bias
  • Canada
  • Environment Design*
  • Exercise*
  • Humans
  • Linear Models
  • Middle Aged
  • Regression Analysis
  • Residence Characteristics*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Walking*