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A novel method to evaluate the community built environment using photographs--Environmental Profile of a Community Health (EPOCH) photo neighbourhood evaluation tool.

Chow CK, Corsi DJ, Lock K, Madhavan M, Mackie P, Li W, Yi S, Wang Y, Swaminathan S, Lopez-Jaramillo P, Gomez-Arbelaez D, Avezum Á, Lear SA, Dagenais G, Teo K, McKee M, Yusuf S - PLoS ONE (2014)

Bottom Line: Previous research has shown that environments with features that encourage walking are associated with increased physical activity.Photo sets from each community were assessed independently by three observers in the central research office according to the pro forma and the inter-rater reliability was compared by intra-class correlation (ICC).The collection of the photographic data required minimal training and the analysis demonstrated high reliability for the majority of items of interest.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Population Health Research Institute, Hamilton Health Sciences, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada; The George Institute for Global Health and Westmead Hospital Sydney Medical School, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia.

ABSTRACT

Background: Previous research has shown that environments with features that encourage walking are associated with increased physical activity. Existing methods to assess the built environment using geographical information systems (GIS) data, direct audit or large surveys of the residents face constraints, such as data availability and comparability, when used to study communities in countries in diverse parts of the world. The aim of this study was to develop a method to evaluate features of the built environment of communities using a standard set of photos. In this report we describe the method of photo collection, photo analysis instrument development and inter-rater reliability of the instrument.

Methods/principal findings: A minimum of 5 photos were taken per community in 86 communities in 5 countries according to a standard set of instructions from a designated central point of each community by researchers at each site. A standard pro forma derived from reviewing existing instruments to assess the built environment was developed and used to score the characteristics of each community. Photo sets from each community were assessed independently by three observers in the central research office according to the pro forma and the inter-rater reliability was compared by intra-class correlation (ICC). Overall 87% (53 of 60) items had an ICC of ≥ 0.70, 7% (4 of 60) had an ICC between 0.60 and 0.70 and 5% (3 of 60) items had an ICC ≤ 0.50.

Conclusions/significance: Analysis of photos using a standardized protocol as described in this study offers a means to obtain reliable and reproducible information on the built environment in communities in very diverse locations around the world. The collection of the photographic data required minimal training and the analysis demonstrated high reliability for the majority of items of interest.

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Related in: MedlinePlus

How photos were taken.This diagram shows how the photos were taken. The cross indicates an intersection. The individual must stand at their start point and take photos of each direction from their start points. (front, 2 sides, back). Then they go across from where they were standing to take a picture of their start point. All the photos must show clear view of the street and roads in the neighbourhood without any cars, buildings or pedestrians blocking the view.
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pone-0110042-g001: How photos were taken.This diagram shows how the photos were taken. The cross indicates an intersection. The individual must stand at their start point and take photos of each direction from their start points. (front, 2 sides, back). Then they go across from where they were standing to take a picture of their start point. All the photos must show clear view of the street and roads in the neighbourhood without any cars, buildings or pedestrians blocking the view.

Mentions: Research assistants from each country were trained using a prepared set of slides and a manual explaining the procedures to be used. Photos were taken using a standardized protocol by researchers doing the ‘Community Observation Walk’ element of the EPOCH 1 assessment. [9] In brief the community observation walk took place in the commercial or central shopping district of the community and began at a central location. From this designated ‘start-point’ photos were taken to capture a 360 degree view of the community with a minimum of 5 photos. As illustrated in Figure 1, 4 of these photos were taken from the start point in each of 4 directions and the 5th photo was of the start point, taken from across the street. From some communities we had more than this number of photos and in a few only 4 good quality photos could be assessed. Assessors were instructed as to where to stand to take photos, the views they were to obtain, and how to overlap images to achieve full coverage of a street scene. They were also given basic instructions on camera use, lighting and angle to take photos. In each community, 3 observers conducted the walk and we were sent 3 sets of photos from each community. However as these photos were found to be very similar when reviewed and our focus was on the reliability of external observers to audit the communities, we used only the first set of photos for the current analyses.


A novel method to evaluate the community built environment using photographs--Environmental Profile of a Community Health (EPOCH) photo neighbourhood evaluation tool.

Chow CK, Corsi DJ, Lock K, Madhavan M, Mackie P, Li W, Yi S, Wang Y, Swaminathan S, Lopez-Jaramillo P, Gomez-Arbelaez D, Avezum Á, Lear SA, Dagenais G, Teo K, McKee M, Yusuf S - PLoS ONE (2014)

How photos were taken.This diagram shows how the photos were taken. The cross indicates an intersection. The individual must stand at their start point and take photos of each direction from their start points. (front, 2 sides, back). Then they go across from where they were standing to take a picture of their start point. All the photos must show clear view of the street and roads in the neighbourhood without any cars, buildings or pedestrians blocking the view.
© Copyright Policy
Related In: Results  -  Collection

License
Show All Figures
getmorefigures.php?uid=PMC4219679&req=5

pone-0110042-g001: How photos were taken.This diagram shows how the photos were taken. The cross indicates an intersection. The individual must stand at their start point and take photos of each direction from their start points. (front, 2 sides, back). Then they go across from where they were standing to take a picture of their start point. All the photos must show clear view of the street and roads in the neighbourhood without any cars, buildings or pedestrians blocking the view.
Mentions: Research assistants from each country were trained using a prepared set of slides and a manual explaining the procedures to be used. Photos were taken using a standardized protocol by researchers doing the ‘Community Observation Walk’ element of the EPOCH 1 assessment. [9] In brief the community observation walk took place in the commercial or central shopping district of the community and began at a central location. From this designated ‘start-point’ photos were taken to capture a 360 degree view of the community with a minimum of 5 photos. As illustrated in Figure 1, 4 of these photos were taken from the start point in each of 4 directions and the 5th photo was of the start point, taken from across the street. From some communities we had more than this number of photos and in a few only 4 good quality photos could be assessed. Assessors were instructed as to where to stand to take photos, the views they were to obtain, and how to overlap images to achieve full coverage of a street scene. They were also given basic instructions on camera use, lighting and angle to take photos. In each community, 3 observers conducted the walk and we were sent 3 sets of photos from each community. However as these photos were found to be very similar when reviewed and our focus was on the reliability of external observers to audit the communities, we used only the first set of photos for the current analyses.

Bottom Line: Previous research has shown that environments with features that encourage walking are associated with increased physical activity.Photo sets from each community were assessed independently by three observers in the central research office according to the pro forma and the inter-rater reliability was compared by intra-class correlation (ICC).The collection of the photographic data required minimal training and the analysis demonstrated high reliability for the majority of items of interest.

View Article: PubMed Central - PubMed

Affiliation: Population Health Research Institute, Hamilton Health Sciences, McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada; The George Institute for Global Health and Westmead Hospital Sydney Medical School, University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia.

ABSTRACT

Background: Previous research has shown that environments with features that encourage walking are associated with increased physical activity. Existing methods to assess the built environment using geographical information systems (GIS) data, direct audit or large surveys of the residents face constraints, such as data availability and comparability, when used to study communities in countries in diverse parts of the world. The aim of this study was to develop a method to evaluate features of the built environment of communities using a standard set of photos. In this report we describe the method of photo collection, photo analysis instrument development and inter-rater reliability of the instrument.

Methods/principal findings: A minimum of 5 photos were taken per community in 86 communities in 5 countries according to a standard set of instructions from a designated central point of each community by researchers at each site. A standard pro forma derived from reviewing existing instruments to assess the built environment was developed and used to score the characteristics of each community. Photo sets from each community were assessed independently by three observers in the central research office according to the pro forma and the inter-rater reliability was compared by intra-class correlation (ICC). Overall 87% (53 of 60) items had an ICC of ≥ 0.70, 7% (4 of 60) had an ICC between 0.60 and 0.70 and 5% (3 of 60) items had an ICC ≤ 0.50.

Conclusions/significance: Analysis of photos using a standardized protocol as described in this study offers a means to obtain reliable and reproducible information on the built environment in communities in very diverse locations around the world. The collection of the photographic data required minimal training and the analysis demonstrated high reliability for the majority of items of interest.

Show MeSH
Related in: MedlinePlus