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Built environment and health

Office of the Associate Director, Applied Research Program, Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences, National Cancer Institute, Executive Plaza North MSC 7344, Bethesda, MD 20892-7344, USA.
Preventive Medicine (Impact Factor: 3.09). 08/2008; 47(3):239-40. DOI: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2008.07.010
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Available from: David Berrigan, Aug 22, 2014
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    • "The question of whether the built environment is associated with transportation behavior and physical activity has been explored from many different disciplinary perspectives, including transportation[1], health[2,3], planning[4,5], and climate change[6]. Some studies largely focus on urban form and neighborhood design (e.g., traditional, suburban, sprawl, inner/outer ring)78910, while other studies examine specific measurable correlates of the built environment to transportation behavior1112131415or what barriers, perceived or physical, might exist to walking in neighborhoods. "

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    • "Specifically, GIS provides a platform connecting the individual with the environment allowing researchers to inspect the distribution of diseases and investigate potentially modifiable ecological explanations for disease clusters, which may clarify the aetiology of health-related events (Chen et al., 2008; Du et al., 2010). The spatial data that could objectively describe the physical environment are increasingly used to understand how the physical environment is associated with, for example, obesity, asthma and stress-related outcomes (Maantay, 2002; Berrigan and McKinnon, 2008; Tucker et al., 2009; Matthews and Yang, 2010). Clearly, a spatial perspective and spatial modelling should facilitate the examination of the local dynamics between population and environment (Fotheringham, 1997; Haining, 2003). "
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    ABSTRACT: Beyond individual-level factors, researchers have adopted a spatial perspective to explore potentially modifiable environmental determinants of health. A spatial perspective can be integrated into health research by incorporating spatial data into studies or analysing georeferenced data. Given the rapid changes in data collection methods and the complex dynamics between individuals and environment, we argue that geographical information system (GIS) functions have shortcomings with respect to analytical capability and are limited when it comes to visualizing the temporal component in spatio-temporal data. In addition, we maintain that relatively little effort has been made to handle spatial heterogeneity. To that end, health researchers should be persuaded to better justify the theoretical meaning underlying the spatial matrix in analysis, while spatial data collectors, GIS specialists, spatial analysis methodologists and the different breeds of users should be encouraged to work together making health research move forward through addressing these issues.
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    ABSTRACT: Municipalities all over the globe seek to evaluate the sustainability of their communities and this process requires an interdisciplinary perspective. Walkability and social capital are important measures of sustainable communities that are not necessarily considered together in measurement schemes. Through a community-based case study, the following article examines the relationship between select measures of social capital and self-perceived walkability. Descriptive statistics demonstrated that higher levels of social capital existed in more walkable communities. More sophisticated analysis further supported this association. A community index was created from responses to questions about participating in civic engagement activities such as donating blood, attending a committee meeting or public hearing, interacting with individuals in various neighborhoods, and contributing to a community project. A trust index was also created with answers to survey questions about general trust and trust of neighbors and other members of communities. Multilevel models demonstrated that higher levels of walkability were associated with higher levels of participation in community activities, even after controlling for socio-demographic factors. Similar patterns were found for the trust index where higher levels of walkability were positively associated with positive responses to a variety of trust questions. Implications for sustainable communities policy and management are suggested.
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