Development and Validation of the Neighborhood Environment Walkability Scale for Youth Across Six Continents
Cerin, E; Conway, TL; Barnett, A; Smith, M; Veitch, J; Cain, KL; Salonna, F; Reis, RS; Molina-García, J; Hinckson, E; Muda, WAMW; Anjana, RM; Van Dyck, D; Oyeyemi, AL; Timperio, A; Christiansen, LB; Mitáš, J; Mota, J; Moran, M; Islam, MZ; Mellecker, RR; Sallis, JF
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Background: The IPEN International Physical Activity and Environment Network Adolescent project was conducted using common study protocols to document the strength, shape, and generalizability of associations of perceived neighborhood environment attributes with adolescents' physical activity and overweight/obesity using data from 15 countries. Countries did not use identical versions of the Neighborhood Environment Walkability Scale for Youth (NEWS-Y) to measure perceived neighborhood environment attributes. Therefore, this study derived a measurement model for NEWS-Y items common to all IPEN Adolescent countries and developed a scoring protocol for the IPEN Adolescent version of the NEWS-Y (NEWS-Y-IPEN) that maximizes between-country comparability of responses. Additionally, this study examined between- and within-country variability, and construct validity of the NEWS-Y-IPEN subscales in relation to neighborhood-level socio-economic status and walkability. Methods: Adolescents and one of their parents (N = 5714 dyads) were recruited from neighborhoods varying in walkability and socio-economic status. To measure perceived neighborhood environment, 14 countries administered the NEWS-Y to parents and one country to adolescents. Confirmatory factor analysis was used to derive comparable country-specific measurement models of the NEWS-Y-IPEN. Country-specific standard deviations quantified within-country variability in the NEWS-Y-IPEN subscales, while linear mixed models determined the percentage of subscale variance due to between-country differences. To examine the construct validity of NEWS-Y-IPEN subscales, we estimated their associations with the categorical measures of area-level walkability and socio-economic status. Results: Final country-specific measurement models of the factor-analyzable NEWS-Y-IPEN items provided acceptable levels of fit to the data and shared the same factorial structure with five latent factors (Accessibility and walking facilities; Traffic safety; Pedestrian infrastructure and safety; Safety from crime; and Aesthetics). All subscales showed sufficient levels of within-country variability. Residential density had the highest level of between-country variability. Associations between NEWS-Y-IPEN subscales and area-level walkability and socio-economic status provided strong evidence of construct validity. Conclusions: A robust measurement model and common scoring protocol of NEWS-Y for the IPEN Adolescent project (NEWS-Y-IPEN) were derived. The NEWS-Y-IPEN possesses good factorial and construct validity, and is able to capture between-country variability in perceived neighborhood environments. Future studies employing NEWS-Y-IPEN should use the proposed scoring protocol to facilitate cross-study comparisons and interpretation of findings.