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The Surveys Are In! The Role of Local Government in Supporting Active Community Design

Hollander, Marla MPH, CHES; Martin, Sarah Levin PhD; Vehige, Tammy MEd, CHES

Journal of Public Health Management and Practice: May-June 2008 - Volume 14 - Issue 3 - p 228–237
doi: 10.1097/01.PHH.0000316481.27017.07

Background Recent studies detailing how the built environment affects health have found that land use and community design may have an impact on reducing sedentary lifestyles and increasing physical activity.

Method However, there is little information available about the attitudes of local officials and professional staff who often are directly responsible for making decisions about land use and community design.

Results This opportunistic study reports findings across five major surveys that investigated healthy community design knowledge, attitudes, and practice among local officials and professional staff. When possible, comparisons and contrasts of survey responses and policy implications are discussed.

Conclusions The sharing of these data across professions is an important step toward enhancing collaboration in the fields and in better understanding the needs of local leaders related to active living and healthy community design.

• This study reports on the findings across five major surveys investigating healthy community design knowledge, attitudes, and practice among a variety of local officials as well as discusses its policy implications.

Marla Hollander, MPH, CHES, is an Independent consultant assisting organizations and communities in creating healthy places and spaces. Most recently, Ms Hollander was the founding director of Active Living Leadership, a national initiative supporting state and local, elected and appointed officials in creating healthy community design.

Sarah Levin Martin, PhD, is the Cofounder of PEANUT (copyright 2004; Program Evaluation Across the Nation Using Technology). She is currently doing business as PEANUT and serves as the lead evaluator for NikeGO. Dr Martin was a health scientist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the Physical Activity and Health Branch for more than 5 years.

Tammy Vehige, MEd, CHES, is a Doctoral student in the Social and Behavioral Sciences Department at Boston University's School of Public Health, Boston, Massachusetts. Earlier she was at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Division of Nutrition and Physical Activity.

Corresponding Author: Marla Hollander, MPH, CHES, MK2 Consulting, 6310 Huntington Dr, Carlsbad, CA 92009.

Work on this investigation was conducted while Ms Hollander was at San Diego State University.

The authors thank Martin Harris, Andrea Lasker, Nadejda Mishkovsky, Marya Morris, Valerie Rogers, Karen Roof, and Jessica Solomon for providing access to survey data and serving as reviewers. We also thank Kate Kraft and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation for their support in this effort.

© 2008 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.