Background: The objectives of this study were to use the Rasch model to 1) assess the psychometric properties of a physical environmental audit instrument and 2) to develop indices of interrelated environmental attributes that summarize environmental supportiveness for walking.

Methods: A set of items were derived representing two conceptual physical environmental constructs: 1) functional/safety, and; 2) aesthetics. Ad hoc criteria based on point-biserial and Rasch-based fit statistics were used to examine the construct validity and internal reliability of the two constructs.

Results: The Rasch-based fit statistics assisted in identifying 12 items that belonged to the functional/safety construct and 4 items that belonged to the aesthetic construct. The reliability of the two constructs were low to moderate (functional/safety rβ = 0.19 and aesthetics rβ = 0.35).

Conclusion: Given the vast number of built environmental attributes, a means of developing summary indices is essential. Future studies should assess the reliability and validity of indices that summarize physical environmental characteristics conducive to walking before testing them in predictive models of physical activity. More research examining procedures for measuring the built environment and techniques for analyzing environmental data are needed to guide future research in this area.





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