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Urban Form and Psychosocial Factors: Do They Interact for Leisure-Time Walking?

BEENACKERS, MARIËLLE A.; KAMPHUIS, CARLIJN B. M.; PRINS, RICHARD G.; MACKENBACH, JOHAN P.; BURDORF, ALEX; VAN LENTHE, FRANK J.

Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise: February 2014 - Volume 46 - Issue 2 - p 293–301
doi: 10.1249/MSS.0000000000000017
Epidemiology

Introduction: This cross-sectional study uses an adaptation of a social–ecological model on the hierarchy of walking needs to explore direct associations and interactions of urban-form characteristics and individual psychosocial factors for leisure-time walking.

Methods: Questionnaire data (n = 736) from adults (25–74 yr) and systematic field observations within 14 neighborhoods in Eindhoven (the Netherlands) were used. Multilevel logistic regression models were used to relate the urban-form characteristics (accessibility, safety, comfort, and pleasurability) and individual psychosocial factors (attitude, self-efficacy, social influence, and intention) to two definitions of leisure-time walking, that is, any leisure-time walking and sufficient leisure-time walking according to the Dutch physical activity norm and to explore their interactions.

Results: Leisure-time walking was associated with psychosocial factors but not with characteristics of the urban environment. For sufficient leisure-time walking, interactions between attitude and several urban-form characteristics were found, indicating that positive urban-form characteristics contributed toward leisure-time walking only in residents with a less positive attitude toward physical activity. In contrast, living in a neighborhood that was accessible for walking was stronger associated with leisure-time walking among residents who experienced a positive social influence to engage in physical activity compared with those who reported less social influence.

Conclusions: This study showed some evidence for an interaction between the neighborhood environment and the individual psychosocial factors in explaining leisure-time walking. The specific mechanism of interaction may depend on the specific combination of psychosocial factor and environmental factor. The lack of association between urban form and leisure-time walking could be partly due to the little variation in urban-form characteristics between neighborhoods.

Department of Public Health, Erasmus University Medical Center, Rotterdam, THE NETHERLANDS

Address for correspondence: Mariëlle A. Beenackers, Ph.D., Department of Public Health, Erasmus University Medical Center, Rotterdam, PO Box 2040, 3000 CA Rotterdam, The Netherlands; E-mail: m.beenackers@erasmusmc.nl.

Submitted for publication October 2012.

Accepted for publication July 2013.

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© 2014 American College of Sports Medicine