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Using manipulated photographs to identify features of streetscapes that may encourage older adults to walk for transport

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journal contribution
posted on 2014-11-01, 00:00 authored by J Van Cauwenberg, V Van Holle, I De Bourdeaudhuij, P Clarys, J Nasar, Jo SalmonJo Salmon, L Goubert, B Deforche
Experimental evidence of environmental features important for physical activity is challenging to procure in real world settings. The current study aimed to investigate the causal effects of environmental modifications on a photographed street's appeal for older adults' walking for transport. Secondly, we examined whether these effects differed according to gender, functional limitations, and current level of walking for transport. Thirdly, we examined whether different environmental modifications interacted with each other. Qualitative responses were also reported to gain deeper insight into the observed quantitative relationships. Two sets of 16 panoramic photographs of a streetscape were created, in which six environmental factors were manipulated (sidewalk evenness, traffic level, general upkeep, vegetation, separation from traffic, and benches). Sixty older adults sorted these photographs on appeal for walking for transport on a 7-point scale and reported qualitative information on the reasons for their rankings. Sidewalk evenness appeared to have the strongest influence on a street's appeal for transport-related walking. The effect of sidewalk evenness was even stronger when the street's overall upkeep was good and when traffic was absent. Absence of traffic, presence of vegetation, and separation from traffic also increased a street's appeal for walking for transport. There were no moderating effects by gender or functional limitations. The presence of benches increased the streetscape's appeal among participants who already walked for transport at least an hour/week. The protocols and methods used in the current study carry the potential to further our understanding of environment-PA relationships. Our findings indicated sidewalk evenness as the most important environmental factor influencing a street's appeal for walking for transport among older adults. However, future research in larger samples and in real-life settings is needed to confirm current findings.



PLoS One





Article number



1 - 9


Public Library of Science


San Francisco, CA





Publication classification

C Journal article; C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal

Copyright notice

2014, Public Library of Science