Optimizing scoring and sampling methods for assessing built neighborhood environment quality in residential areas

Joel Adu-Brimpong, Nathan Coffey, Colby Ayers, David Berrigan, Leah R. Yingling, Samantha Thomas, Valerie Mitchell, Chaarushi Ahuja, Joshua Rivers, Jacob Hartz, Tiffany M. Powell-Wiley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

17 Scopus citations


Optimization of existing measurement tools is necessary to explore links between aspects of the neighborhood built environment and health behaviors or outcomes. We evaluate a scoring method for virtual neighborhood audits utilizing the Active Neighborhood Checklist (the Checklist), a neighborhood audit measure, and assess street segment representativeness in low-income neighborhoods. Eighty-two home neighborhoods of Washington, D.C. Cardiovascular Health/Needs Assessment (NCT01927783) participants were audited using Google Street View imagery and the Checklist (five sections with 89 total questions). Twelve street segments per home address were assessed for (1) Land-Use Type; (2) Public Transportation Availability; (3) Street Characteristics; (4) Environment Quality and (5) Sidewalks/Walking/Biking features. Checklist items were scored 0–2 points/question. A combinations algorithm was developed to assess street segments’ representativeness. Spearman correlations were calculated between built environment quality scores and Walk Score®, a validated neighborhood walkability measure. Street segment quality scores ranged 10–47 (Mean = 29.4 ± 6.9) and overall neighborhood quality scores, 172–475 (Mean = 352.3 ± 63.6). Walk scores® ranged 0–91 (Mean = 46.7 ± 26.3). Street segment combinations’ correlation coefficients ranged 0.75–1.0. Significant positive correlations were found between overall neighborhood quality scores, four of the five Checklist subsection scores, and Walk Scores® (r = 0.62, p < 0.001). This scoring method adequately captures neighborhood features in low-income, residential areas and may aid in delineating impact of specific built environment features on health behaviors and outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number273
JournalInternational journal of environmental research and public health
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 8 2017


  • Active Neighborhood Checklist
  • Built neighborhood environment
  • Environment quality
  • Google Street View
  • Residential neighborhoods
  • Virtual audits
  • Walk Score®
  • Washington D.C. Cardiovascular Health and Needs Assessment

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pollution
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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